ORG wants historic marker in Medina downtown for leading abolitionist

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2015 at 12:00 am

Frederick Douglass addressed crowds in Medina

Courtesy of Chris Busch, ORG – A new historical marker, planned to be erected on Main Street in Medina, highlights abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who visited Medina to speak against slavery.

MEDINA – In 1849, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech in Medina at the former Methodist Episcopal Church on Main Street (the current Fuller block, home of Main Street Appliance).

Douglass, a leading abolitionist and editor of The North Star newspaper in Rochester, also visited Medina in 1869 and gave a celebratory address for Emancipation. That event 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 $1,755 in contributions for the historical marker.

Chris Busch, ORG vice chairman, would like to have the marker up in time for the Civil War celebration in Medina in late April. He would like a Frederick Douglass re-enactor to also be part of the marker’s dedication.

The Village Board needs to approve the marker’s placement and accept it. The issue is on the board’s agenda for its 7 p.m. meeting today at the Shelby Town Hall.

Douglass frequently visited Orleans County and spoke at churches and meeting houses, trying to rally the community for the abolition cause.

He found an agreeable audience.

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.

“Aside from President Lincoln, Frederick Douglass stands as the most significant and consequential figure in the 19th century who routinely placed his life in danger in the cause of freedom and justice,” Busch said.

“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.”