Launching John Brown Day 2014, students from high schools across the Adirondacks will attend special screenings of 12 Years a Slave, the Academy award-winning film based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free Black Adirondacker who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the mid-1800s.
Born in Minerva in 1808, Northup lived many of his early years in the region, married and made a home with his wife and their three children in Saratoga Springs. It was there in 1841 where his harrowing entrapment and subsequent enslavement on a Louisiana cotton plantation began.
Eighteen years later in October 1859 John Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, lit the spark that ignited the war that ended the chattel slavery that Northup and millions of other people of African descent endured in the United States.
John Brown Day dates back to a tradition started in the 1930s of making a pilgrimage to the North Elba gravesite of abolitionist John Brown and his sons and other Harpers Ferry Raiders who sacrificed their lives in the struggle to end slavery.
The freedom education project John Brown Lives! continues this tradition today and is partnering with Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek, the Fort Edward Historical Association, the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, Lake Placid Library, Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, and schools across the North Country on the multi-faceted John Brown Day 2014 commemoration.
John Brown Day 2014 will involve events for students, teachers and the general public exploring local connections to slavery and abolition including screenings and a book discussion of 12 Years A Slave, a workshop for educators, and an outdoor commemorative event at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 6-Saturday, May 10, 2014.
WHERE: Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek and multiple venues in Lake Placid, NY (see Events below).
12 Years A Slave Book Discussion and Film Screenings
May 6: Book discussion focusing on Solomon Northup’s autobiography led by Sarah Galvin of Bookstore Plus at Lake Placid Library from 5:30pm – 6:30pm.
May 8: Film screening and discussion for area high school students at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek from 9am – 12pm.
May 9: Film screening and discussion for area high school students at Northwood School in Lake Placid from 9:30 am – 12:30pm.
May 9: Screening of select scenes and discussion for the general public led by Dr. J.W. Wiley at Northwood School in Lake Placid from 7pm – 9pm. Dr. Wiley is the Director of Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion at SUNY Plattsburgh and the author of The Nigger in You: Challenging Dysfunctional Language, Engaging Leadership Moments (Stylus, 2013).
Engaging Students in Historical Inquiry Workshop for Educators
May 10: Dr. Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz (Assistant Professor of History/Social Science Teaching Coordinator, Eastern Illinois University) leads a content-rich, interactive workshop using personal letters and other historical documents to bring John Brown and fellow Harpers Ferry Raiders to life for students, at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid from 10am – 12pm.
John Brown Day – May 10, 2014
May 10: Annual celebration at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site Historians in Lake Placid from 2pm-4pm with musical performances, dramatic readings, and talks on slavery and abolition by leading scholars and historians including:
• Dr. Margaret Washington, Professor of History and American Studies, Cornell University, and the author of Sojourner Truth’s America (University of Illinois Press, 2009) will speak on “John Brown and Black Women Abolitionists”;
• Dr. Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz, Assistant Professor of History/Social Science Teaching Coordinator, Eastern Illinois University, and author of The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown’s Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism, (Cornell University Press, 2013) will speak on “The Brown Women at North Elba: Service and Sacrifice for the Cause”; and
• Dr. Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University, and author of The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom and Deception in the New World (Henry Holt, 2014) who will speak on “Weird John Brown’: Herman Melville and the Problem of American Slavery”.
John Brown Day 2014 will come to a close with a wreath-laying ceremony on the graves of Brown and fellow Harpers Ferry Raiders.
John Brown Lives! (JBL!) is a freedom education and human rights project based in the Adirondacks to promote social justice and human rights through the exploration of issues, social movements, and events, many of them rooted in the region.
JBL! uses the lessons and legacies of the past to unite communities in conversation, celebration and commemoration to address the critical issues of our time.