Marker for famed abolitionist will be unveiled next week

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2015 at 12:00 am

Provided images from Orleans Renaissance Group – Frederick Douglass spoke at the Methodist Episcopal Church, shown at right, on Aug. 3, 1869. This church burned in 1874. Looking south, you can see the Bent’s Opera House and the old spire of the First Presbyterian Church before the spire was removed.

MEDINA – The “Citizens of Medina” will dedicate a historical marker next Friday (April 24) in honor of Frederick Douglass and the two speeches he gave in the village.

Douglass, a Rochester newspaper editor and leading abolitionist, visited Medina and Orleans County on several occasions.

In 1849, Douglass delivered a speech in Medina at the former Methodist Episcopal Church on Main Street (the current Fuller block, home of Main Street Appliance). He also visited Medina in 1869 and gave a celebratory address for Emancipation entitled “We are not yet quite free.” That event on Aug. 3 was attended by African-Americans from throughout the state.

A new historical marker will highlight those visits by Douglass. The Orleans Renaissance Group has lined up the donations for the historical marker. It will be dedicated at 9 a.m. next Friday at 430 Main St.

The dedication has been timed with the Civil Encampment organized by Genesee Community College. Medina is hosting that event on the 150th anniversary of the final year of the Civil War.

A Frederick Douglass re-enactor is expected to be part of the marker’s dedication and will also meet with schoolchildren as part of educational outreach programs with the Civil War Re-enactment.

Douglass found a like-minded audience when he visited Orleans County. Local historian Dee Robinson found reports of a meeting in 1850 at the Orleans County Courthouse in Albion. Congress had just passed the Fugitive Slave Act, saying runaway slaves needed to be returned, but Orleans residents voted to not enforce the law locally.

“The fact that the Village of Medina and Douglass are intertwined is a tremendous point of pride and should stand as an inspiration to current and future generations,” said Chris Busch, ORG vice chairman.