Contact: Tiffany Nicholas at (585) 286-9029

Monroe County Students Help Design History


(December 2, 2020, Rochester, NY) Fuzzy pictures and mathematical equations can help scientists understand the oldest and most distant cosmic phenomena. For most of us, however, it’s the incredible renderings of those phenomena that can take away one’s breath; awed by our complex and stunningly beautiful universe. Last week, Monroe County student artists unveiled their own awe-inspiring renderings of Anna Murray Douglass that allow us to picture her in all new ways.

On October 22, 2020, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) invited local students, ages 8-18, to submit artwork to supplement the two known images of Anna and help animate her sparse biography. Partners on the project included Rochester Association of Black Journalists (RABJ) and Rochester Contemporary Arts Center (ROCO).

“I was thrilled to see the wide range of media and creative approaches that were entered in this competition,” said Bleu Cease of ROCO. “From the use of text and design, to careful and realistic portraits, to quirky perspectives and alternative vantage points, these impressive young artists have given our community many new ways of visualizing Anna.”

The winning entries, runners-up and other works from the contest can be seen here on FDFI’s website. The winning artist from the 8-10 age group is Julian Gilbert-Rigg. From the 11-13 age group, the winner is Anna Leathersich and, from the 14-18 age group, Holy Kim received the highest scores from judges.  Winners will receive $500 and two runners-up from each group will receive $250.

Douglass Washington Morris, Jr. was one of the contest judges, “It is humbling to witness others’ perspectives of my four-greats grandmother, Anna Murray Douglass. I recognize the incredible talent these students possess to be able to paint her in a new light.”

FDFI encourages artists of all ages and from anywhere in the world to submit other portraits of Anna that may be displayed at the Douglass Center Gallery in Rochester, NY. Submissions may be sent to

Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is an Abolitionist and AntiRacist organization co-founded by direct descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. Its mission is To build strong children and to end systems of exploitation and oppression. From their headquarters in Rochester, NY, FDFI is working to end racial inequity. They have been a leader in implementing human trafficking prevention education curricula in classrooms nationally since 2007.  Learn more at

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