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RCSD considers renaming school after Frederick Douglass

May 15, 2018 10:18 AM

Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass is a huge part of Rochester's history, but there's currently no school named in his honor.

Now there's a push to change that.

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Surrounding School 12 or the James P.B. Duffy School is the Frederick Douglass Community Library and the recently renamed Frederick Douglass Rec Center. The area has a common theme -- one reason people are pushing for a change.

Duffy was a U.S. Congressman who represented this area and died back in 1969. He certainly did a lot for this area, serving with the Red Cross among other organizations.

The problem is most of the children who go to this school don't know who Duffy is.

As for Douglass, he lived in a home in Rochester before it was burned down in a suspected arson in the late 1800s.

Up until a few years ago, a local middle school was named after Douglass but a former superintendent changed the name to Northwest/Northeast College Prep at Douglass Campus.

A local historian, Dr. David Anderson, is pushing for this change and Rochester City School District Board of Education President Van White supports it.

"But I think our children today need heroes now more than ever and one of the heroes they're somewhat familiar with is Frederick Douglass," White said. "We want that knowledge to grow because we believe Frederick Douglass had a lot of traits our young children would benefit from -- perseverance, intellectual curiosity, persistence."

To change a school's name, the Board of Education requires 100 signatures. There were 300 signatures to support this change.

The name would not necessarily be Frederick Douglass School, but the Board of Education is looking to honor the Douglass family in some way. 

To weigh in on the decision, the community is invited to the Board of Education's public meeting on Monday, May 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the District Office on West Broad Street.

Let us know you think via our Facebook poll.

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