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School 12 and James PB Duffy

On the Rochester school district's consideration of changing the name of James PB Duffy School 12 to one honoring Frederick Douglass and his wife Anna: What does a long-dead white lawyer, one of great moral rectitude and with a lifetime of involvement in the betterment of his community, have to do with a struggling African-American child in Rochester's School Number 12 today?

What of a grandson of Irish immigrants, whose father hit the big time and was one of Rochester's wealthiest residents in the late 19th century? One who grew up with his twin sister and seven other siblings (and with servants) in a Lake Avenue mansion in Rochester's other prestige district and then crewed at Georgetown University and later Harvard, where he earned that law degree in 1904?

What has he to do with Trevyan Rowe, the autistic teen who walked away from School 12 in March and was later found dead in the Genesee River?

Can it be remembered that the white lawyer served on the Rochester school board for 27 years (1905-1932) or that as a New Deal Democrat, his election each term was never a sure thing, but that he was widely respected by his Republican colleagues on the board?

Or that the life's efforts of this devoutly Catholic bachelor, described at his death at age 90 as "gracious, witty, gentle, generous, and compassionate," seemed to be towards making his city a better place for those with whom he shared it, serving as founder and for 52 years director of Family Services of Rochester, 52 years a trustee of the Chamber of Commerce, 34 years a counsel to the local Red Cross, 42 years a trustee of the Community Chest, 34 years a Commissioner of the Rochester Museum, 34 years a trustee of Rochester Savings Bank, 32 years a director and one year president of the local Automobile Club, 52 years a trustee of St. Patrick's Church, and three years a functionary of the United Service Organization (thanks to Wikipedia for this).

City reports that after a sustained effort, it is likely that James Patrick Bernard Duffy's name will be dropped from School 12 and replaced with that of Rochester's much more famous resident, abolitionist Frederick Douglass (perhaps along with his patient and long-suffering wife, Anna Murray Douglass).

I am not so naïve as to not understand that this train has left the station and that a change of name is probably a done deal that will be almost universally celebrated (or ignored, as the case may be). Such are the times we live in and the hoped-for solutions to issues that concern us most: providing role models, incentivizing underperforming students, salving a wound.

My guess, however, is that in first naming School 12 after James P.B. Duffy, the intention was to honor one whose legacy was strongly related to the city's schools, (one who sat and listened and debated in school board president Van White's very chambers) and one who more broadly contributed to all of community life here.

Can he have a plaque there?


The Morelle win

I wish there had been a more exciting option, but I'll vote for him in November (as the only acceptable candidate). This seat can't be lost to the Republicans.


The three other candidates should have grouped together and chosen one to run. Morelle didn't perform in the debates.


Now the work begins. Can't lose in the fall.


A majority of Dems did not want Morelle, yet there he goes.


Reviewing the Jazz Fest

I find it astonishing that City did not review the Christian Sands Trio in Montage June 24. As Ron notes in his review of Sands at Hatch, this is a young pianist with "incredible pyrotechnics and a great musical imagination."

All of that was on display in the trio and much more. The trio includes Jonathan Barber, a 28-year-old drum phenomenon who became the regular drummer for Jeremy Pelt at age 22 and for the last half year has been working with Sands as if they were soulmates. He is arguably the best up-and-coming jazz drummer in the world today, while Sands is surely the best up-and-coming pianist. There they were on the same stage, setting the place on fire.

My guess is that if a poll were conducted among the sold-out crowds at the two sets at Montage, there would be overwhelming sentiment (perhaps 90 percent) for the statement that the Sands shows at Montage will represent their highlight for this year's festival by a very wide margin. And yet City did not even bother to send a reviewer.

I know City can't cover everything; my complaint is with its egregious process of selecting what it will review. Why tell your readers about an assortment of scrub acts and leave out the most important ones? There is simply not enough care or intelligence being given to preparing the schedule. Surely the three City reviewers can do better.