Contact: Robert J. Benz at (585) 310-4559


Frederick Douglass Family Responds To Statue Vandalism


(July 6, 2020, Rochester, NY) The direct descendants of Frederick Douglass responded to the destruction of a Douglass statue in Rochester, NY over the fourth of July weekend with the following statements.  

“There has been a broad array of comments responding to this act of vandalism,” said Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass and Co-Founder of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) “The President suggested it was ‘Anarchists,’ who perpetrated this, the House minority leader believes it was ‘mobs,’ a US Representative from New York attributed the scheme to ‘Marxist organizing,’ others think it may be retaliation for the removal of Confederate statues. One prominent former governor said that this was ‘a great example of the horrific state of affairs in history education in America.’

“They could all be right or, perhaps, as was the previous case of Douglass statue vandalism in December of 2018, two young men had too much to drink during a night out and felt the need to test their strength on an object they believed to be inanimate. While the Douglass statues are indeed inanimate, they are a critical reminder of a legacy that is very much alive today. In fact, the reactions from elected officials, laden with emotion and evocative language, are proof of Douglass’s relevance and the need for forthright discussion about dismantling policies and systems of racism that are still toxic 125 years after his death. Whatever the reason for destroying the Douglass statue, it is a clear signal regarding the urgency to make change now.”

As news of the latest Frederick Douglass statue vandalism emerged, John Boedicker, one of the Rochester men who admitted and made amends for the December 2018 incident through a process of restorative justice, is joining the struggle.

“It is truly aggravating for me and saddens my heart, especially in times like this where it looks like positive change is right around the corner given the progress of Black Lives Matter across the world. I don’t want to be silent on this because Frederick’s message became a part of me after I did what I did. Now, more than ever, I would like to convey that.”

“John Boedicker,” Mr. Morris concluded, “is testimony that every American can use his or her voice at this moment to stand up for what’s right.”

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 national leader in implementing human trafficking prevention education curricula in classrooms nationally since 2007.  Learn more at

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