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Dinolfo Rochester Community Join Together to “Shine a Light on Douglass” on Bicentennial Birthday

Photo Credit: Rochester Institute of Technology’s Big Shot Team

Photo Credit: Rochester Institute of Technology’s Big Shot Team

It was a perfect Valentine’s Day evening at Highland Bowl to show some love to Frederick Douglass on the bicentennial of his chosen birthday, February 14. County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo was joined by approximately 400 people from throughout the community to “Shine a Light on Douglass” and create a once-in-200-year set of archival photos of the beloved 1899 Frederick Douglass monument.

“Tonight’s ‘Shine a Light on Douglass’ event helps to illustrate the legacy of Frederick Douglass, who placed a bright shining light on the importance of equality and justice for all people,” said Dinolfo. “Monroe County is proud to be a partner in this historic community event and join with the hundreds of residents from our community in paying respect to one of Rochester’s trailblazers, Frederick Douglass. I look forward to seeing the photo from tonight’s event at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s ‘No Soil Better’ exhibit.”

The 30” x 40” photo will be on display at Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s (RoCo) “No Soil Better” exhibit through March 18, and will be available for download from RoCo’s website rochestercontemporary.org within days. “No Soil Better” features new artworks by a diverse group of emerging and established artists that reflect on how Douglass has been memorialized and the importance of his legacy today.

Tonight’s event was organized by members of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Big Shot Team in collaboration with the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration Committee, Rochester Community Television (RCTV), RoCo and Monroe County. Big Shot is the nighttime community photography project produced by RIT’s School of Photographic Arts & Sciences.

“We are honored to help lead the production of this once-in-a-lifetime picture of Frederick Douglass and appreciate the enthusiasm of Rochester to come out in all sorts of weather to help us make these nighttime community photographs,” said Michael Peres and the RIT Big Shot Team including Dan Hughes, Therese Mulligan, Debbie Kingsbury and Jessica Campbell.

“Shine a Light on Douglass” is part of “Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass,” a public art project, exhibition and community-wide reflection commemorating the 200th anniversary of his birth. A collaborative effort between lead partners RCTV (Carvin Eison, project director and general manager) and RoCo (Bleu Cease, co-project director and executive director) in collaboration with a wide-range of community partners, including Monroe County, who have come together as the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commemoration Committee. The project will celebrate Douglass’ achievements and legacy, throughout 2018. Project Manager Christine Christopher and Emeritus Committee Chair and National Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commissioner Dr. David Anderson round out the committee leadership. Dr. Jose Torre, chair of the History Department at The College at Brockport is the history consultant.

Dinolfo previously announced that Monroe County will be moving the eight-foot tall, bronze monument this spring to the more publicly accessible location at the corner of South Avenue and Robinson Drive. The bronze monument is renowned as the first civic monument in the country to honor an African-American citizen. This summer, as part of the “Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass” project, a series of life-size statues of Frederick Douglass, faithful replicas of the monument created by artist John David Vincent, will be placed at locations that are historically significant to his life in Rochester. A mobile-friendly website will provide interpretive information including a self-guided tour map and interpretive and biographical information.

“We are exceptionally grateful to all our partners, and especially the Monroe County Department of Parks, under the leadership of Director Larry Staub. They have been very gracious in allowing us unique access to the Douglass monument to assure that our colleague John David Vincent’s re-creation is a powerful, inspiring and moving depiction of Douglass to help us tell his story in sites across this city where he did some of the most important work of his career,” said Project Director Carvin Eison. “They have been strong supporters of our vision from Day One. On behalf of all our partners and Co-Director Bleu Cease, I want to offer our heartfelt thanks.”

“Shine A Light on Douglass” follows in a tradition started by Rev. Julius D. Jackson, a member of the Eureka Lodge that originally funded the Sidney Edwards Frederick Douglass Monument. That event, called “Light Up Douglass” and traditionally held in June on the anniversary of the statue’s installation, was the inspiration for “Shine A Light on Douglass.”