Announcement Comes on Anniversary of Anna Douglass Internment in Rochester
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2022
Rochester, NY— Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) and Rochester Area Community Foundation are pleased to announce an agreement to memorialize longtime Rochester resident and freedom fighter Anna Murray Douglass and her daughter Annie Douglass with individual grave memorials at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Mother and daughter were buried at the historic cemetery in 1895 and 1860, respectively, but never had individual memorials to denote their burial place. They have instead shared a monument with Frederick Douglass. The announcement on February 22 marks 127 years since Anna Murray Douglass was reinterred at Mount Hope Cemetery and returned to Rochester after her body was moved from its original burial site in Washington, DC. The markers will contain text highlighting the critical work of the Douglass ladies and Anna’s contribution to the fight for equality that is a hallmark of the Douglass family legacy.
The Community Foundation provided a $15,000 grant to FDFI to support this important project. “Visitors to the Douglass family burial site will now have an opportunity to recognize and contemplate the worthy legacy of Anna Murray and Annie Douglass,” said Simeon Banister, executive vice president at the Community Foundation. “Our historic preservation grants preserve the rich stories of our community in order to transmit important lessons to future generations. We are grateful to the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives for their invitation to join in preserving this remarkable part of our community’s history.”
The memorials are intended to recognize the relationship between Frederick, Anna, and Annie and also provide a tribute to the community of Rochester and people like Jeff Simmons for his 30 plus years of service and 13 years of management as the first African American manager of Mount Hope Cemetery. The memorials also recognize The Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery for their many years of stewardship of the gravesite and Rochester educator and activist Dr. David “Sankofa” Anderson for his unrelenting spirit in retelling the Douglass story. “I can remember how I looked at the pictures above my head of my Aunt Julia, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Frederick Douglass in my bedroom as a child in Cincinnati, OH, and being inspired. Frederick has been with me ever since. What a beautiful way to honor the women in his family,” said Dr. Anderson, who continued, “And with the dynamic curriculum now being taught at the Anna Murray Douglass Academy, which sits on the site of the former Douglass homestead, a new day has truly arrived!”
FDFI is thrilled that Anna and Annie will be memorialized in this way. “This honor for my great-great-grandmother and Annie is long overdue,” said Nettie Washington Douglass, co-founder, and co-chair of FDFI. “We are absolutely delighted that the Rochester community and visitors from around the world will be able to recognize and pay appropriate respect to two of the most important women in Frederick Douglass’s life.”
Anna Murray Douglass lived in Rochester for over 25 years and raised five children at the Douglass homes on Alexander Street and South Avenue. She was married for over 44 years to abolitionist, suffragist, orator, and journalist Frederick Douglass and had sold her belongings and sewed a disguise to help him escape enslavement in Maryland. A radical freedom fighter and fervent abolitionist in her own right, Anna Douglass was her husband’s steadfast partner in every endeavor. While Frederick Douglass traveled throughout the United States and around the world, Anna Douglass operated an important stop on the Underground Railroad at their home in Rochester and provided shelter and refuge to Americans fleeing enslavement. At the same time, she made certain her husband had everything he needed for his trips while also running the household, raising their children and establishing the Douglass family as an important part of the Rochester community.
Annie Douglass, born in Rochester in 1849, was the youngest of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass’s five children. Before her tragic death from a brain hemorrhage at age 10 in 1860, she was a devoted student of the abolitionist movement and formed a particularly close bond with activist John Brown, who often stayed at the Douglass home. Her father, Frederick Douglass, was abroad in Scotland when she died and was devastated by her death. He had called his daughter “the light of my house.”
A public celebration and dedication of the cemetery memorials will be announced soon.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact FDFI Executive Director Erica Mock, telephone 585-286-9029; email EMock@fdfi.org
About Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives: FDFI is a Rochester, NY-based 501(c)(3) public charity with a mission to build strong children and to end systems of exploitation and oppression.