LAKE PLACID, NY - Maria Suarez was sold into slavery in the United States at age 16. She is one of an array of leading academics, authors and civil rights advocates coming to Lake Placid, NY, the burial site of abolitionist John Brown, the weekend of December 4th to attest that slavery, the scourge he gave his life to end, is by no means over 150 years after his hanging for treason and trying to incite slaves to riot.
Suarez will be joined by author Russell Banks, who was nominated for a Pulitzer for his novel Cloudsplitter which stimulated a widespread reexamination of Brown; Alice Keesey Mecoy, Brown's great, great, great, grand daughter; Cornel University professor and historian Margaret Washington, an authority on the black experience in America; Louis DeCaro, Jr., author of John Brown--the Cost of Freedom, and Fire from the Midst of You: A Religious Life of John Brown; Roy Innis, the national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality; the activist Bernardine Dohrn, a former national leader of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and the Weather Underground, who was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List for over a decade; and others whose lives have been touched by Brown.
The weekend will lead off with a public symposium to examine the ongoing influence of this still polarizing individual who continues to inspire people who take violent and non-violent approaches to seeking change for the causes they seek to advance. The opening event, held at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts and lead by J.W. Wiley, Director for the Center for Diversity, Pluralism, and Inclusion at State University of New York - Plattsburgh, will use clips from contemporary feature and documentary films the examine the experience of slavery and racism in the time of Brown.
Margaret Washington will provide the opening keynote Saturday at a forum held at the High Peaks Resort and will speak to the Black experience as slave, free black and activist, like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, who risks their lives to bring people to freedom. DeCaro, the leading authority on Brown, will present a portrait of Brown as a person, the experiences and faith that shaped him, and discuss the impact of his actions on everything from the election of Lincoln to General's Sherman and Grant's conduct of the Civil War to public opinion today.
A panel moderated by Banks, will examine the influence of Brown on the lives of his own family, social activists and explore the question, Is violence ever justified? Kevin Bales, author of HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disposable_People:_New_Slavery_in_the_Globa..."Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, which was nominated for Pulitzer, Understanding Global Slavery and Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's Slaves, and Maria Suarez will speak to the reality of slavery today that has over 25 million worldwide and 50,000 in the United States serving in human bondage.
The forum will be followed by a march to the grave site and the laying of a wreath on Brown's grave led by Roy Innis, national president of CORE, with a gospel concert and tribute to Banks held in the evening. On Sunday the activities will shift to the shore of Lake Champlain for a re-enactment of aspects of the arrival of Brown's funeral cortege from Vermont, the laying of his body in state at the Essex County Courthouse in Elizabethtown, with events held at the Heritage Center in Westport, where the cortege stopped for a noon break, the Deer's Head in where Mary Brown and friends spent the night, at the Old Stone Church and Adirondack Center Museum. On Monday the cortege will bring the body home by horse and wagon to the Farm, where a memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Dec 8th at 11:00 AM, one hundred and fifty years after his burial again to his favorite him, Blow Ye Trumpets Blow while church bells will ring throughout the region.