Home Airports Aftermath: Airport Name Change Due To BLM

Aftermath: Airport Name Change Due To BLM

by SharonKurheg

If there’s one thing you can say about Americans, it’s if they’re not happy with something, they work to change it. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement is becoming a stronger force in the United States, with more and more supporters and allies.

The quest for liberation, justice and freedom for Black people has been agonizingly slow, with significant backlash from those who are opposed to those kinds of changes. However sometimes small changes, happily, can come quickly and without too many problems from people who would rather keep things the way they are.

Case in point the next time you fly into Monroe County, New York, the name of the airport might be different from what it is right now. They’re changing it from “Greater Rochester International Airport” to “Frederick Douglass – Greater Rochester International Airport.”

We had written last month that a petition has recently been circulating to honor Douglass, a 25-year resident of Rochester and considered to be the most influential African American of the 19th century. Since then, the Monroe County Legislature voted to rename the airport in his honor.

The bill was sponsored by the Monroe County Legislature’s Democratic Minority Leader Vince Felder and Republican Legislator Karla Boyce.

“Each time residents and visitors arrive at our airport, they will be reminded of Douglass’s life and legacy of fighting oppression,” Felder and Boyce said in a joint statement issued after the vote. “Our remembrance through the airport renaming serves as recognition of our past and a promise of the work our community will do to make Monroe County a welcoming place for all.”

The change won’t be immediate, of course. Officials need to notify the FAA, paperwork has to be done, new signage made, historical information added and, most likely, a privately financed bronze statue will be added to the airport, officials said.

“I got very emotional when I heard the news,” said Nettie Washington Douglass, the great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Douglass and Chair of the Rochester-based Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. “I can’t wait to hear the captain say, ‘Welcome to Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport!”

Granted, changing the name of an airport from the name of a city to the name of a famous Black man is symbolic at best. McCarran Airport in Las Vegas is also under consideration for a new name (Patrick McCarran was a known bigot) and if it comes to fruition, that will be a bigger “win” in terms of “it’s the right thing to do.” Certainly not as good as other big changes that should be made, but still, every little bit helps.

The times they are a’changin’.

Feature Photo: Pixnio

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


AlohaDaveKennedy August 29, 2020 - 5:06 pm

Changing the name to “Frederick Douglass – Greater Rochester International Airport” did what exactly? Define what liberation, justice or freedom it added to the life of blacks if you will. If the public wants to change the name I’m fine with that but change just for the sake of change seems meaningless. Now if BLM wants to fund some exhibits in the airport regarding Douglass with a tie in to the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in DC, his grave in Mt Hope Cemetery and the Freethought Trail that would be educational and constructive.

SharonKurheg August 29, 2020 - 6:02 pm

Maybe you didn’t read the entire piece. I did say in the last paragraph that renaming the airport was admittedly a small advance, but that every little bit helps and hopefully larger, more meaningful things will continue to happen in the future.

Case in point, I don’t see why or how BLM should fund anything of the sort of things you mentioned. White America has treated Black and Brown people like crap for generations; perhaps members of the local police department or former members of the KKK (a girl can dream, right?) could make private donations for same.


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