[Jose DaCosta and Mel Henderson, co-chairs of the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee, have issued this statement following the cancellation of this year’s Clarissa Street Reunion. –Ed.]
In the wake of the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee has decided to further postpone the 25th Clarissa Street Reunion to August 20, 2022. Since August 1996, the Clarissa Street Reunion has been an annual tribute to the once-thriving commercial and residential neighborhood. Given its historical importance as the foundation of Rochester’s African American community, we will again celebrate the Clarissa Street neighborhood and its people, businesses, and organizations for their significant contributions to the City of Rochester and the country. In addition to planning an August 2022 commemoration, the following initiatives are currently underway to keep the comprehensive history of the Clarissa Street neighborhood alive.
Clarissa Street Neighborhood Digital Archive
The creation of a digital archive of the Clarissa Street neighborhood is underway as a partnership between the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee and several organizations, including the Center for Teen Empowerment, the Rochester Public Library, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester Museum & Science Center, and the University of Rochester. In addition to stories that center on well-known residents, undertold stories will recall the daily interactions within this diverse community and the African American businesses and cultural institutions that served as mortar to keep the community together. Highlighting the resiliency and spirit of residents, the archive will reveal how urban development programs and racially discriminatory practices caused the demise of this once vibrant, predominantly African American neighborhood.
The archive will include the following:
- A film gallery that featurethe short documentary film Clarissa Uprooted, produced by RCTV, Rochester Center for Teen Empowerment, and the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee. Video recordings of neighborhood “elders” and other videos will also be included.
- A photo gallery comprised of scanned photographs and articles obtained from neighborhood residents andother resources. Scanned articles and other documents of historical significance will also be included.
- An augmented reality tour of the Clarissa Street neighborhood, developed by RIT, that will display on mobile devices historically significant images of people,homes, organizations, and businesses.
Clarissa Street Corridor Revitalization
The recent designation of the Clarissa Street corridor as a Landmark Society of Western New York 2020 Five To Revive project will provide the impetus for projects to commemorate the neighborhood’s history and stimulate economic revitalization.