In The News: Vandalism of Frederick Douglass statue

What we know now about vandalism of Frederick Douglass statue
Sean Lahman and Sarah Taddeo, December 17, 2018, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle



The vandalism of a Frederick Douglass statue has provoked outrage throughout the Rochester community and leaves a number of questions unanswered.

John R. Boedicker, 20, of Endicott, Broome County, and Charles J. Milks, 21, of Kenmore, Erie County, were charged Sunday with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, Rochester Police Investigator Jackie Shuman said.

Officers responded just after midnight Sunday morning to the intersection of Alexander and Tracy streets after reports that a pair of individuals had broken the statue from its base and were attempting to leave the scene with it.

Here are some of the questions that people are asking about the incident.


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Overlooked No More: Elizabeth Keckly, Dressmaker and Confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln
Nancy Wartik, December 12, 2018, The New York Times

It was the morning of April 15, 1865, and President Abraham Lincoln had just died of an assassin’s bullet. Mary Todd Lincoln, his widow, was cloistered in the White House, wailing in grief, unable to reach her closest confidante: her dressmaker.

Elizabeth Keckly was finally ushered into the darkened room.

“Why did you not come to me last night, Elizabeth?” Mary Lincoln said, reproaching her. “I sent for you.”

“I did try to come to you, but I could not find you,” Keckly answered, laying her hand on the widow’s brow.

The moment, as recounted in Keckly’s 1868 memoir, Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, was indicative of how far she  had come.

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Black Lives Matter, Black Power, and the Role of White Allies
Say Burgin, December 12, 2018, Black Perspectives



The Movement for Black Lives has revived many familiar debates, one of which revolves around the question of the role of white people in Black-led movements. One dominant theme is that whites should get their own house in order, so to speak. At Race Forward’s 2016 “Facing Race” conference, writer Roxane Gay told attendees, “I’m done with ally-ship. I’m done with people who allow themselves the distance of ally-ship.” A mere week after Trump had become president-elect, she warned that white people in the US needed to “get their sh*t together.”

The following year, BLM Nashville announced its refusal to take part in a counter-demonstration aimed at a “White Lives Matter” rally in nearby rural Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. This announcement came just two months after the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which ended with a white man plowing his car through counter protestors, killing one and injuring 19 others. BLM Nashville made clear that dealing with white supremacists in the streets was work for white citizens:

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Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.
~Kahlil Gibran (1883 –1931), Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer.

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