ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester already celebrates its legacy as home to Frederick Douglass. Soon, it will be one of the only cities in the northern U.S. to have a public site dedicated to civil rights.
It’s a grassroots effort. Rev. Myra Brown of Spiritus Christi Church is one of the organizers.
“I think there’s been a black freedom struggle that’s been the direct result of men, women and young people who have been fighting for racial equality in the community for a very long time,” she says. “Their stories need to be told.”
Some of these stories are preserved in WROC-TV news stories of the era, from a 1963 sit-in to protest police brutality or a 1967 picket to protest poor housing, to the riots of 1964: three days of unrest that served as a wakeup call that black men and women were tired of being locked out of jobs and economic opportunity.
By 1969, black protesters successfully pressured the city’s largest employers to hire more minorities. The civil rights era brought rallies, marches, and confrontations with people in power. All of it sparked change.
The Rochester Heritage Civil Rights site will be built at Baden Park on the city’s northeast side.
There’s a public school next door and the historic Baden Street Settlement House is nearby. Organizers have already secured funding from the city and state. They’re raising money from private donors as well.
To donate to the Rochester Heritage Civil Rights Site, click here.
The design for the site at Baden Park is underway. When it’s built, it will serve as a monument to the quest for civil rights, a quest that continues to this day.
“These stories are important for our learning, for our children who come after us. It will be an amazing outdoor learning experience for our entire city,” Brown says. “This is not a black thing or a white thing, this is a human thing that we need to do. We believe in this.”
To read more about the Heritage Civil Rights Site, click here.