When Monroe County decided to rename the Greater Rochester International Airport after Frederick Douglass, no one was more thrilled than Rev. Julius Jackson Jr. Jackson is the pastor of Trinity Emanuel Presbyterian Church and a leader of the black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha. He issued a call to action nearly 15 years ago, and Rochester listened.
“A dream deferred is not a dream denied, so I’m happy to see this dream reach fruition,” Jackson says.
One year ago, Jackson helped break ground on the Frederick Douglass Memorial Square at Highland Park. The plaza places the 121 year old statue of Douglass in a more prominent place at the park.
It’s one of Jackson’s favorite places, as he has spent the better part of a decade “turning the dirt” for the Douglass. Not only was he among the first to push for a more prominent display for this iconic statue, Jackson also lead the effort to rename the Rochester Airport. In 2006, fresh off fundraising for the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial in Washington D.C., Jackson wrote an article for “About ..Time” Magazine, suggesting it was time to honor Douglass in a similar way. Jackson urged the community to rename the airport in tribute. “There’s a lot of rich history, not just of Douglass but of Rochester history that ties into Douglass that everyone should know about,” he says.
Jackson is proud to tell friends and strangers alike about the region’s rich ties to Douglass. 14 years after he began pushing for a more prominent tribute to Douglass, his dream is coming true. “I think it’s a nice beacon for Rochester, as well as what’s going on at the airport,” he says. “It will put Rochester more so on the map.”
Right now, the FAA is finalizing the paperwork to rename the airport after Frederick Douglass.
Part of the project will include an educational display about inside the airport dedicated to Douglass, his life work, and his devotion to the City of Rochester.