Abolitionist John Brown's hometown considers legacy during sesquicentennial activities
Lake Placid, NY----Historians and lovers of history from the Adirondack North Country and throughout the nation will gather in Lake Placid, NY and surrounding environs December 4-8, for a weekend long festival entitled John Brown Coming Home, to consider the impact that the nation's most famous abolitionist, John Brown, had on the country in the days leading up to the Civil War and until today. Brown, the architect and leader of the ill-fated raid on Harper's Ferry, WVA., did his initial planning from his Lake Placid, New York home (now a NYS Parks Historic site) and was returned there following his capture, trial, and hanging.
Activities kick off on Friday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Lake Placid Center of the Arts, located at 17 Algonquin Drive Lake Placid, with an evening program focusing on the film depiction of slavery and racism in the time of Brown. The event, sponsored by the Lake Placid Center of the Arts and held in conjunction with the Lake Placid Film Forum, will feature the participation of Professor J.W. Wiley, director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh. The event is free and open to the public.
On Saturday, December 5 at 9:00 a.m. at the High Peaks Resort, located at 2384 Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid, some of the nation's most notable academics specializing on John Brown, the Civil War, slavery in the time of Brown until today and the importance of activism. One of the event's participants, Maria Suarez, a women herself sold into slavery at the age of 16 here in the United States, will discuss how slavery is still with us today. Also in attendance will be John Brown's great, great, great granddaughter Alice Keesey Mecoy, Cornel professor and expert of the African American experience Margaret Washington, Brown historian Louis De Caro, Jr., Weather Underground co-founder Bernadine Dohrn and Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves. Presenters in the forum will speak from a table believed to be that used by Brown in his planning of the raid on Harper's Ferry. The table was traded to cover debts by Brown's wife Mary following his burial and prior to her departure for California.
In the afternoon, forum participants and individuals from throughout the region will participate in a march to John Brown's grave. Once there, participants will take part in a graveside service and wreath-laying led by Roy Innis, national president of the Congress for Racial Equality.
Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., at the Adirondack Community Church, nationally renowned author Russell Banks will be honored for his work to inspire understanding of John Brown in his Pulitzer Prize nominated novel Cloudsplitter. The award presentation will feature the participation of Pulitzer Prize winning author William F. Kennedy, a longtime friend of Banks'. Also recognized as part of this ceremony for their efforts to enhance understanding of diversity, in the spirit of Brown, will be J.W. Wiley and the musical group Magpie. The evening program will include a gospel concert.
The weekend-long program will be complemented by activities organized by the Essex County Historical Society in nearby Elizabethtown, including reenactments of the ferry crossing of Brown's casket from Vermont, the laying in repose of his body at the Essex County Courthouse in Elizabethtown, a presentation on John Brown at the Old Stone Church in Elizabethtown, and transportation of Brown's body to John Brown's Farm. The week's events will conclude with a memorial service to be held on Tuesday, December 8th at 11:00 a.m. at the gravesite. The service will conclude with a one-minute period of bell tolling at the church and other religious institutions located throughout the North Country.
"John Brown's actions, and reasons expressed for those actions while in jail, forced Americans to confront their stand on slavery and, of consequence led our nation to civil war," said Naj Wikoff, coordinator of the 150h Commemoration. "Both his willingness to use violence and sacrifice his own life to achieve his goal of ending slavery has resulted in an ongoing controversy and influence that is still being felt. We invite people of all ages to come a discuss his relevance at a time when 27 million are held in slavery world-wide."
The weekend long festival John Brown Coming Home is being organized by the Lake Placid-Essex County Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Additional support is being provided by The Essex County Historical Association, the Lake Placid Center of the Arts, the Lake Placid Film Forum, the Adirondack Methodist Church and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.
Contact: Naj Wikoff 518-523-2445 ext 108
Coordinator, John Brown Coming Home