February is Black History Month, and this year’s celebration is a special one for Rochester residents in particular. That’s because February 2019 is also the bicentennial anniversary of famed abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass, who later made his home in the Flower City. Not only is Douglass immortalized throughout Rochester in the form of statues for all to see throughout the year, but the University of Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies will partner with the school’s Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation library facility to showcase Douglass’s work and life.
Of course, this is not the only way Rochesterians are celebrating. Mayor Lovely A. Warren and Rochester’s Black Heritage Committee are hosting a month-long events program to pay tribute to our country’s proud black heritage. The City Hall Link Gallery hosted a special event to kick off the month with flair. Live jazz music by the Art Beaty Band could be heard as guests appreciated the artwork of 25 local African American youth and adult artists. Attendees also had the chance to sample a variety of specialty African American foods. Considering that an estimated 65% of American consumers purchased specialty foods in 2017, it’s likely the crowd left the event satisfied on several levels. The event may have passed, but the artwork will remain on display through the middle of March.
City Hall isn’t the only place you can experience incredible works of art, either. The Memorial Art Gallery also hosted a Black History Month event that included live jazz performances, art activities for children, storytelling, and even a Frederick Douglass impersonator. During February break, kids can also receive free admission to the museum with the purchase of an adult ticket. Since studies have shown that seeing a beautiful painting can increase the blood flow to the “joy response” part of the brain by 10% (the same effect you experience when you look at a loved one), this can be a wonderful cultural experience for families.
If art isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate Black History Month in Rochester. There are several gospel concerts planned throughout the month, including one that will take place in the City Hall Atrium on February 27 during the lunch hour. The U of R’s Tournees Film Festival features several selections for Black History Month, as well. The celebrations put on by the city actually continues into March, with the 16th Annual Black Heritage Gala on March 9 and the Community and College Gospel Explosion on March 30. The Memorial Art Gallery will also host a multi-screen film and video installation called Lessons of the Hour, which is inspired in part by Frederick Douglass, from March through May. Residents can also do their part to support black-owned businesses during this month by checking out Embellish Boutique, Simply Simone Naturals, the Arnett Cafe, and more. Black-Owned Business Rochester is an excellent resource to learn about other establishments in the area. Should you feel like staying home and tuning into some local programming instead, WXXI will broadcast television and radio programs throughout the month that feature influential black men and women.
Clearly, there are countless ways to celebrate Black History Month in Rochester, thanks to the city’s diversity and commitment to cultural appreciation and understanding. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about the iconic figures that have shaped the black experience, both past and present.
Many of you have noticed our extended hiatus and have begun asking if this is the end for RocSubway. I didn’t think it would be necessary to say anything about it. But for those of you who had followed this blog like religion for so long, you deserve some closure.
A little while ago I lost my job and decided to start my own web design business instead of going back to work for someone else. That was the best decision I ever made for myself. But it also means I now work pretty much nonstop with little time for anything else. What extra time I do have, I put into growing Reconnect Rochester . Reconnect is a nonprofit organization doing amazing work to change the way transportation is viewed in Monroe County. It’s something I’m very proud of. And it began with a seed planted right here.
So I’m not going away, really. I just won’t be posting much here for the foreseeable future. In the meantime you’re welcome to join me over at Reconnect . Or perhaps I’ll run into you somewhere else, helping to make our community better in your own way.
Before I sign off, I want to say thank you.
I’ve gained much more from every RocSubway reader I’ve met (virtually and in person) than what I’ve given on these pages. Always remember there are important lessons for the future buried deep within our past. Everywhere you look in this city—behind every wall and within every person—you will find a beautiful story. We’ve only scraped the surface.
On a recent trip to New York City (my previous home) I came across a poem in the subway by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. I cannot think of better words to close with…
As you fly swiftly underground
with a song in your ears
or lost in the maze of a book,
remember the ones who descended here
into the mire of bedrock
to bore a hole through this granite,
to clear a passage for you
where there was only darkness and stone.
Remember as you come up into the light.
RochesterSubway.com has been nominated for Best Local Blog of 2012. If you’d like to cast your vote, simply fill out City Newspaper’s Final Ballot before October 3 (5pm) and select “RochesterSubway.com” for question #66.
Many people have been asking why Tom Selleck of the classic TV drama Magnum P.I. has been campaigning for RochesterSubway. Tom held a press conference at Letchworth State Park this weekend to answer these questions…
There is literally a blog for everything. Don’t believe me? Pick three completely random things… let’s say… Tom Selleck, waterfalls and sandwiches. YES, there’s a blog for that . But what if you’re a fan of Tom Selleck, waterfalls, sandwiches, and Rochester NY? Thankfully, there’s RochesterSubway.com.
If you’ve enjoyed flipping thru these pages with me over the past 12 months or longer, why not show your support by voting for RochesterSubway.com in the CITY Newspaper’s Best Of Rochester 2012 Reader’s Poll ? (Vote “RochesterSubway.com for line #66: “Best Blog”)
And if you’re a newcomer to the Subway (or you’re just nostalgic like me), let’s take a look back at the most popular stories we dug up over the past 12 months…
I’m a bit late on this but maybe this will be news to you. Some time last year, a notable infrastructure blog called The Infrastructurist, published a list of the top 10 greatest rail stations ever built. Standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest examples of 20th Century American architecture is Rochester’s NY Central Station. What? You’ve never heard of it? That’s probably because it’s not with us anymore — may she rest in peace. The NY Central Station was demolished in 1965. In it’s place, the pretty little Amtrak Station you know and love today. In fact, all of the buildings on the Infrastructurist’s list are no longer.
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.