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Anna Murray Douglass Contest


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

Local Organization Invites Youth to Create Portraits of Anna Murray Douglass

Cash Prizes Offered to Expand Her “Life in Portrait”

(October 8, 2020, Rochester, NY) Authors of the book, Picturing Frederick Douglass (Stauffer, John et. al.; Liveright 2015) called Douglass the “Most Photographed Man of the Nineteenth Century.” Yet, there are only two known images of Anna Murray Douglass, Frederick’s wife of 44 years, mother of their five children, steward of his legacy and household, and co-conductor of their Rochester stop on the Underground Railroad.

As a way of honoring Anna during the 2020 Centennial of the 19th Amendment, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) would like young people to imagine how she may have looked in portraits during three different stages of her life: aged 5-25, aged 26-45, and aged 46-69. Students, aged 8 to 18, at schools in Monroe County, NY are eligible to submit one image of Anna at any one of the three stages in her life.

“How does Anna appear in your creative thoughts?” asked Bleu Cease, Executive Director/Curator of Rochester Contemporary Art Center (ROCO). “Her clothing? Her hair? Her eyes? Her smile? What’s in the background? Black and white or color? Choose any medium you wish: pencil drawing, pastels, oils paints, or mixed medium.”

“This is a meaningful project for the area,” said Shanique Byrd, Founder & CEO of Tocsin Magazine. “I am excited to represent Rochester Association of Black Journalists (RABJ) on a joint mission with FDFI and ROCO to acknowledge the life of Anna Murray Douglass for “Life in Portrait.”

The best images will win cash prizes. $500 will be given to one person at each level (elementary, middle and high school) plus $250 to two runners-up at each level. A total of $3,000 in cash will be given to students who can expand the vision of Anna’s Life in Portrait. Levels are defined as: elementary (aged 8-10), middle (aged 11-13) and high school (aged 14-18). Entries must be received by November 20th at 5pm. Image sizes may range from 8.5” x 11” to 11” x 14.”

The Life in Portrait Contest is co-curated by FDFI, ROCO and the RABJ. A panel of art experts, historians and journalists will review each work of art and select the winners. Contest details and rules can be found here.

The contest will serve to inaugurate FDFI’s new headquarters at 140 E. Main Street in Rochester. The space and a long-term lease were gifted to the organization by CGI owner, Bob Bartosiewicz. “CGI is honored to play a role in FDFI’s work,” said Bob. “We began talking about this back in fall 2019 and I’m happy to see it coming together.” Student entries will decorate the gallery in FDFI’s space.

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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