Tag Archives: John Brown Lives

Slavery And The New York State History Community


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DSCN5667Slavery and New York State have a long history together. Indeed, the history of slavery in New York predates the birth of New York as an English and originates in the days of New Netherland, part of the extensive international slave trade.

As we are regularly reminded by events today, slavery has not disappeared. The current issue of Time includes an article on the worldwide continuance of slavery today, especially targeting young women and girls.

What does this have to do with New York history today? Continue reading

John Brown Day: Local Connections To Slavery


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JB Day 2014[4]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. Continue reading

Events Highlight Role of Pot In Rockefeller’s Drug War


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smoke signals sml[1]Cannabis and its defining role in the culture wars and the ‘war on drugs’ declared by former New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller forty years ago will be fully explored by award-winning investigative journalist Martin A. Lee in two separate events in the North Country on September 26-27. Lee will also be speaking in Albany on September 28.

All three events are sponsored by the freedom education and human rights project, John Brown Lives!, as part of “The Correction,” the organization’s latest initiative that uses history as a tool to engage communities in examining the past and addressing critical issues of our time. The focus of The Correction is the impacts of the 40-year era of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Continue reading

Abolitionist History Season Getting An Early Start


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John Brown DayThe Abolitionist History season is starting early this year.

First, the North Star Underground Railroad Museum at Ausabale Chasm opens Saturday, May 4, nearly a month earlier than usual, and sponsors its first tour of Underground Railroad sites in local towns. With the weather as warm as it is, and demand growing in each of the museum’s first two years, the early opening made sense.

Second, just one week later, John Brown Lives! celebrates John Brown Day on May 11 with a special appearance by activist and one-time Presidental candidate Dick Gregory. He’ll be the keynote speaker at 2 p.m. at the John Brown State Historic Site, followed by Kate C. Larson, biographer of the legendary underground conductor Harriet Tubman. Continue reading

Black History Progams at Adirondack Prison


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In the 1850's, black families came to the Adirondacks to farm.The Adirondack Correctional Facility at Raybrook is hosting a series of special Black History Month programs for inmates that focus on 19th Century stories of African-Americans in the North Country.

“Dreaming of Timbuctoo,” the display put together by John Brown Lives! back in 2001, reveals the story of families that came to the Lake Placid area in the years before the Civil War, to establish farms and gain voting rights. Continue reading

Emancipation Weekend in the Adirondacks


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January 1, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and students, educators, and general public across the North Country will have the opportunity to support a New Proclamation of Freedom for the 21st century.

On Friday 30 November and Saturday 1 December, modern-day abolitionists will gather with students, teachers and the general public concerned about human freedom and human trafficking at various venues in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Activities will include an art exhibition, a screening of the popular Civil War film Glory, workshops, lectures, and a closing reception following historian David Blight’s keynote address on Saturday night. (Full schedule follows.) Continue reading

Marking John Brown’s Struggle For Human Rights


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One hundred and fifty-three years ago this week John Brown led an anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, part of the radical movement of tens of thousands of Americans struggling to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.

It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans – his execution and martyrdom. But there is another more important reason to celebrate the life of John Brown – his courage in standing against unjust state and federal laws, the press, and popular culture in the cause of basic human rights. Continue reading

New John Brown Portrait Unveiling, Education Event Set


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John Brown Lives! and North Country Community College have announced that Maine artist Robert Shetterly will be present for the unveiling of his portrait of abolitionist John Brown during Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation, a two-day program designed for students, educators and the general public on November 30-December 1, 2012. The events will take place in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, New York.

Brown is one of the newest additions to the Americans Who Tell the Truth project that Shetterly began 10 years ago using portraits of contemporary and historical figures and their own words to offer a “link between a community of people who struggled for justice in our past and a community of people who are doing it now.”

With this portrait, Brown joins Shetterly’s pantheon of more than 180 Truth Tellers that includes Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth and Mark Twain from the nation’s past, and Bill McKibben, James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander, and Jonathan Kozol who are addressing some of humanity’s gravest concerns today.

Shetterly’s portraits have been exhibited across the country. His painting of Brown will be unveiled on Friday 30 November at North Country Community College, Saranac Lake campus, at the opening program of “Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation”. Several other Shetterly paintings will also be exhibited at the college and at the other venues where events will be taking place.

Geared for area high school and college students, their teachers and professors, the Friday program of “Freedom Now, Freedom Then” will also feature independent scholar Amy Godine and Kenneth Morris, Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass.

Godine will talk about young men and women with North Country roots who have heeded the call for human freedman, including slain civil rights worker Andrew Goodman and criminal justice reformer Alice Green. A poster including Goodman, Green and four other civil rights champions done by Lake Placid artist Nip Rogers will also be on display.

Following in his forebear’s footsteps, Morris will talk with students about slavery in Douglass’ time and today, when more people are trafficked and held in slavery than at any other time in human history. Twenty-seven million people are enslaved in nearly every country on Earth, including the United States where State Department estimates that 15,000 women, men and children are trafficked each year. Morris will also discuss service-learning opportunities for students to join the 21st century abolitionist movement to end slavery once and for all.

Glory, the Edward Zwick film starring Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick, will be shown on Friday night (venue to be determined). Civil War Memory blogger Kevin Levin will lead a discussion immediately following the screening.

A cornerstone of John Brown Lives!’ work is to provide teachers in and outside of the classroom with high-caliber opportunities to engage with historians, scholars, anti-slavery activists and artists in an intimate setting. Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid will be the venue for a full day of workshops, presentations and conversations on the complex history of emancipation for educators, librarians, and the general public and will feature: Dr. Gloria Marshall-Browne on freedom and the Founding Documents; Dr. Margaret Washington on women and emancipation; Civil War Memory blogger Kevin Levin on film and emancipation; Magpie, the folk duo, on emancipation in song; Artist Robert Shetterly on art to promote courageous citizenship; Kenneth Morris, President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, on engaging youth, congregations and communities in emancipation today; and Dr. Franny Nudelman on emancipation our texts and textbooks.

David W. Blight, preeminent scholar on the U.S. Civil War, will give the closing keynote address, “The Historical Memory of the Civil War and Emancipation at 150” on Saturday night in Lake Placid (venue to be determined). Dr. Blight is the Director of the Center for Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University and the author of numerous award-winning books and publications including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation; and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.

For more information, presenter bios, and a complete schedule of workshops, film and music programs, visit John Brown Lives! on Facebook or contact either Martha Swan, Executive Director John Brown Lives!, or Cammy Sheridan, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at North Country Community College. Swan may be reached at 518-962-4798 or info@johnbrownlives.org. Sheridan is available at 518-891-2915, ext. 1271 or csheridan@nccc.edu.

John Brown Day Planned for May 5th


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Frederick Douglass’ great-great-great grandson Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., will give the keynote address at the annual John Brown Day celebration to be held on Saturday, May 5, at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, NY. Morris will talk about the friendship and enduring legacy of Douglass and fellow abolitionist John Brown.

The two men first met in Massachusetts in 1848, a decade after Douglass successfully escaped from slavery on a Maryland plantation and eleven years before Brown’s history-changing raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. By the time they met, Douglass had become one of the most eloquent and sought-after champions of freedom and equal suffrage for women and men, regardless of race.

Founder and President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, Morris will also discuss the Foundation’s work today to create a modern Abolitionist Movement in schools all over the country through the vehicle of Service-Learning.

There are an estimated 27 million men, women and children held in some form of slavery in the world today, generating billions of dollars along the supply chain of labor and products that make much of our daily lives possible.

Joining Morris will be Renan Salgado, a Human Trafficking Specialist based in Rochester, who will shed light in his remarks about slavery and trafficking in New York State today. According to the U.S. State Department, there are approximately 17,500 people trafficked into the U.S. each year. Along with California, Texas, and Florida, New York ranks among the states with the greatest incidence of documented slavery in the country.

Young, award-winning orators from the Frederick Douglass Student Club in Rochester will recite from Douglass’ speeches and excerpts from Brown’s letters. The folk quartet The Wannabees and the hip-hop recording artist S.A.I. will also perform.

John Brown Day revives the tradition dating back to the 1930s of making a pilgrimage to remember and honor Brown by laying a wreath at his grave. Over the last 13 years, the grassroots freedom education project John Brown Lives! has worked to keep that tradition alive and relevant.

John Brown Day 2012 is free and open to the public and it is held outdoors. A brief reception will follow in the lower barn at the site. Donations will be appreciated.

For more information, contact Martha Swan, Executive Director of John Brown Lives! at 518-962-4758 or mswan@capital.net.

Visit the John Brown Lives! Friends of Freedom on Facebook.

‘Lies My Teacher Told Me’ Author Event Friday


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James W. Loewen, award-winning author of the popular Lies My Teacher Told Me titles, will visit the North Country tomorrow Friday, October 14 from 10-12 pm at SUNY Plattsburg.

The freedom education project John Brown Lives! and SUNY Plattsburgh’s Honors College, Department of Anthropology, Department of Education, Health & Human Services and the Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion are teaming up to sponsor Loewen.

Loewen’s address, “Lies My Teacher Told Me About the Civil War—And How They Still Affect Civil Rights Today”, is open to the general public. Known for his engaging style and gripping retelling of U.S. history, Loewen has inspired K-16 teachers across the country to get students to challenge, rather than memorize, their textbooks. His best-selling title, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, resulted from two years studying U.S. history textbooks and it has sold more than 1,250,000 copies.

Currently residing in Washington, D.C., Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont and previously at the predominantly black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases and is also Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Visiting Professor of Sociology at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and Visiting Professor of African-American Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.

‘Dreaming of Timbuctoo’ Showing in Essex County


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The “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” Exhibition will be on view at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall in the Champlain Valley from July 3-9. The Grange is located on Route 22, five miles south of the village of Essex, NY.

When it premiered at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake in 2001, “Dreaming of Timbuctoo” revealed the little-known antebellum history involving black homesteaders granted land in the Adirondacks in the mid-1840s—a step toward winning the vote for free black New Yorkers.

Through this abolitionist “scheme of justice and benevolence”, 3,000 African American men from nearly every county in the state each received 40 acres of land. John and Mary Brown moved to the Adirondacks in 1848 to be a friend and neighbor to those who settled their land. One of the loosely knit communities came to be called “Timbuctoo”.

Through letters, documents, archival photographs, and curator Amy Godine’s illuminating text, the exhibition explores the backdrop and motivations of some of the country’s most illustrious anti-slavery leaders involved, including philanthropist Gerrit Smith, the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet of Troy, Frederick Douglass, Syracuse’s Rev. Jermaine Loguen, and Dr. James McCune Smith of New York City.

As the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the Whallonsburg Grange Hall and John Brown Lives! host the exhibition and several educational and cultural events that examine the political war on slavery, discuss its place in North Country history, and its relationship to civil rights issues.

The exhibition opens on Sunday 3 July at 3:00 p.m. and a reception and talk by the curator will follow at 6:00 p.m. Suggested donation is $7. Regular hours from Monday-Saturday, July 4-9, are from 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. and admission is free.

Other upcoming programs at the Grange include:

Wednesday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m.: The Struggle for the Right to Vote, Past and Present, with historians and civil rights activists Dr. Laura Free, criminologist Alice Green, and Paul Murray, Mississippi volunteer in the 1960s. Excerpts from the new film marking the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders will be shown. Admission $5; students free.

Thursday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m. Transgressing the Blue Line: Toward an Inclusive Adirondack Narrative with environmental philosopher Marianne Patinelli-Dubay. Admission $5; students free.

Saturday, July 9 at 8:00 p.m. Magpie in Concert, featuring the gorgeous harmonies, brilliant musicianship, and inspiring songs of the folk duo, Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino. Admission $7; children under 12 admitted for $3.

Related programs at Heaven Hill Farm will involved a trek into the archaeological dig underway at one of the “Timbuctoo” homesteads under the direction of Dr. Hadley Kruczek-Aaron, SUNY-Potsdam Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Timbuctoo Archaeology Project. The dig is near the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in North Elba. Reservations for both Heaven Hill events are necessary and can be made at mswan@capital.net or 518-962-4758.

Thursday, July 7, from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., educators, artists, parents and community members engage in a roundtable conversation to shape a Timbuctoo Adirondacks-Timbuktu Sahara friendship connection. A representative from a Tuoareg community school on outskirts of the Malian city of Tiimbuktu will be present.

Sunday, July 10, from 3:00-6:00 p.m., a visit to the dig site of the Timbuctoo Archaeology Project and reception afterward. $20 per person would be appreciated.

“Dreaming of Timbuctoo” is a joint project of John Brown Lives! and the Essex County Historical Society. Funding from the New York Council for the Humanities and the New York Council on the Arts were principal funders of the exhibition. The Arts Council of the Northern Adirondacks is providing support for the concert with Magpie.

For more information, go to www.thegrangehall.org or contact Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives! at mswan@capital.net or 518-962-4758, or Mary-Nell Bockman at Whallonsburg Grange Hall, Marynell@mac.com or 518-570-2382.

Photo: Black Farmers in North Elba (Courtesy Adirondack Museum).

Climate Justice The Focus of John Brown Day


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Climate Justice will be the focus of this year’s annual John Brown Day on Saturday, May 7, 2011. A tradition dating back to the 1930s, John Brown Day is held each year at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, to honor one of the nation’s most influential abolitionists on the anniversary of his birth in 1800.

Dedicating his life to eradicating slavery, Brown eventually risked all attacking the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. Captured by troops led by Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart, Brown’s trial and execution are considered by many historians as a spark that help ignite the Civil War 150 years ago.

Climate Justice is a growing global movement that recognizes that poor and disenfranchised peoples around the world bear the least responsibility for climate change but face a disproportionate burden from its attendant effects, such as compromised health, economic hardship from rising energy costs, and displacement, destruction of property, and death due to extreme natural disasters. Here in the United States, the global campaign for Climate Justice is deeply linked to the Environmental Justice Movement, which is entering its third decade of militant opposition to environmental racism.

John Brown Day keynote speaker and Environmental Justice leader Cecil Corbin-Mark will describe the evolution of the Climate Justice Movement and give voice to the rights and concerns of the people who are usually the first and often the hardest hit by the impacts of global warming.

Corbin-Mark is Deputy Director of the Harlem-based organization, WE-ACT for Environmental Justice. In addition to his work in New York, Corbin-Mark has been active in United Nations and alternative global climate conversations from Copenhagen to Cochabamba to Cancun.
“Like slavery in antebellum America, climate change is one of the most important moral issues of our time,” said Martha Swan, director of the freedom education project John Brown Lives! which organizes the yearly event.

“Brown surely would have recognized that it is the world’s poor who disproportionately bear the brunt of climate change, so it is fitting that Climate Justice will be the focus of John Brown Day 2011. In this Sesquicentennial Year marking the start of the Civil War, we are honored that Cecil will be with us at this critical time.”

Other speakers at the annual event include David Goodman, brother of civil rights activist Andrew Goodman, murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during Mississippi Freedom Summer in
1964, Alice Kesey Mecoy, great-great-great granddaughter of John and Mary Brown, and Brother Yusef Burges. A trustee of the Children & Nature Network and an outdoor educator, Burgess will speak about the power of nature to transform youth. A frequent paddler on Adirondack waterways and former outreach and diversity coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Burgess works to connect Albany-area youth with the natural beauty and environmental issues of the Adirondacks.

John Brown Day 2011 is possible with the cooperation of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held outdoors under a tent.
For more information, contact Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives!, at 518-962-4758 or johnbrownlives@westelcom.com.

John Brown Lives! Exposing Slavery in Our Chocolate


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On Monday, 14 February, John Brown Lives!’ Dreaming of Timbuctoo Exhibition will be on display in The Well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany. The exhibition will be unveiled at 11:00 a.m. with Valentine’s Day Fair Trade chocolates and guest speakers, including Assemblyman Steven Englebright, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, and Senators Kevin Parker and Betty Little.

While the exhibition brings to light a long-forgotten chapter of New York State freedom history, speakers will also draw connections across continents from the Sahara to the Adirondacks, discuss the importance public funding for state historic sites, and provide an update on the current campaign to end child/slave labor and trafficking in the chocolate industry.

Fifteen years before the Civil War, leading black and white abolitionists in New York State rolled out an ambitious voting rights strategy to break the juggernaut in Albany that kept Black New Yorkers disenfranchised. Part agrarian dream, it also resulted in radical reformer Gerrit Smith deeding 120,000 acres of Adirondack land to 3,000 free black men from all across the state. While few families moved to their plots, Smith’s “scheme of justice and benevolence” is what attracted John Brown to move there with his family. The homestead is where Brown chose to be buried after his raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry in 1859 to strike a blow against slavery. Tens of thousands of visitors come to the John Brown State Historic Site outside of Lake Placid every year to visit the gravesite of Brown and several of his fellow Raiders.

Dreaming of Timbuctoo is the first serious and thorough treatment of the backstory behind John Brown’s attraction to the Adirondacks. The exhibition premiered at the Adirondack Museum in 2001 and then toured campuses, libraries, historical societies, and museums around the state, including the State Museum in Albany, and was seen by well over 100,000 people. With Assemblyman Englebright and Senators Kevin Parker and Betty Little as sponsors, the exhibition will be on display in The Well for the public to view through Thursday 17 February.

Invited speakers at the press event in The Well on Valentine’s Day, Monday 14 February, at 11:00 a.m. include:

- Assemblyman Steven Englebright and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward;
- Senators Kevin Parker and Betty Little;
- Martha Swan, Director, John Brown Lives!
- Brian O’Shaughnessy, Executive Director, New York Labor-Religion Coalition who will make the link to current work to end child/slave labor and trafficking in cocoa industry;
- Jane McNamara, Director of Grants & Special Programs, New York Council for the Humanities
- Dr. Hadley-Kruzcak-Aaron, SUNY Potsdam professor and archeologist who is conducting a dig on one of the Timbuctoo plots in Essex County;
- Andrew Stewart, a college freshman from Albany who was part of Hadley’s team on a dig in 2009;
- Brother Yusef Wasi, an Albany educator and mentor of Andrew and other teens involved in the dig;
- Ibrahim ag Mohamed, Director of Scarab School, Timbuktu, Mali (whose greetings from Mali will be read on his behalf)
- Amy Godine, exhibition curator, who will lead a walk-thru of the exhibition.

Fair Trade chocolate will be handed out and people will have the opportunity to send a Valentine’s Day post card asking the Hersheys Chocolate Company to certify that David West, CEO of Hersheys Company.

Dreaming of Timbuctoo is a joint project of the freedom education project John Brown Lives! and the Essex County Historical Society. Major funding for the exhibition and a slate of educational and cultural program was provided by the New York State Council for the Arts, the New York Council for the Humanities, private foundations, and numerous individual donors.

For more information: Martha Swan, Director, John Brown Lives!, 518-962-4758 or 518-582-2586

New York Anti-Slavery Conference


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In farm fields, artisan workshops, private homes, and brothels then; in fields and orchards, restaurants, factories, private homes and sex-oriented businesses, now—American and foreign-born women, men and children are trafficked and enslaved across New York State.

As the Syracuse Post Standard recently reported, it is as close as the New York State Fair held every summer. According to the Post Standard, a restaurant vendor from Queens was charged earlier this month with allegedly trafficking workers from Mexico to work at the Fair, mistreating and barely paying them, if at all.

“We have both the past and the present to reckon with,” said Martha Swan, Director of the freedom education project John Brown Lives! “Although largely erased from official history and collective memory, New York “promoted, prolonged and profited from” slavery from the 1620s through the 1850s. It continues today, often hidden in plain sight.

“We have organized a two-day Anti-Slavery Convention to put slavery “on the map” as a reality not solely of the South but of New York; and not as a relic but a legacy and crime against humanity still with us today.”

The Convention will be held in Lake Placid, NY, on December 3-4, 2010 and will feature experts on contemporary slavery and human trafficking, scholars, historians, victims advocates, lawyers, artists, and musicians joining with the general public to examine slavery and trafficking in New York State and ways to end it.

The Convention will include a full-day workshop for educators, teaching artists, and librarians at Heaven Hill Farm on Friday, December 3. Advance registration and a $55 fee are required. Call 518-962-4758 to register.

Later that evening at Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Dr. J.W. Wiley from SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion will show film clips and lead a lively conversation on how film has shaped American’s perceptions of slavery and race. The event, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., is free and open to the public.

From 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 4, the Convention will continue at High Peaks Resort on Main Street in Lake Placid with keynote addresses and panel discussions ranging from historical slavery in New York State to up-to-the-minute reports and analysis on slavery and trafficking today.

Dr. Thomas Hopkins, descendent of Harpers Ferry Raider John A. Copeland, will help bring the Convention to a close with a candlelight wreath-laying ceremony at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site at 5:00 p.m..

Partners in the Convention with John Brown Lives! are John Brown Coming Home, the National Abolition Hall of Fame, SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion, and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.

The Anti-Slavery Convention is funded, in part, with support from the New York Council for the Humanities. For more information or a full schedule of events, call 518-962-4758 or go to www.johnbrowncominghome.org.

Adirondack Anti-Slavery Convention Planned


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During “Slavery in New York? Slavery Today?”, a two-day Convention being held Friday, December 3rd and Saturday, December 4th, experts on contemporary slavery and human trafficking will be joined by scholars, historians, victims advocates, lawyers, investigative reporters, musicians, and the general public to examine slavery and trafficking in New York State and ways to end it. Events will take place around the Lake Placid area.

New Yorkers have long regarded slavery as a southern institution. However, the 1991 discovery of the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan offered irrefutable evidence that New York was a veritable slave society for hundreds of years. Recent research and fresh scholarship have begun to mine a long-buried history. As New Yorkers begin to remember and commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, examining the State’s dual legacy of slavery and freedom will shed new light on the complex narrative of our past.

Although largely erased from official history and collective memory, New York “promoted, prolonged and profited from” slavery from the 1620s through the 1850s. Slave labor was here at the start of New Netherland and it continued throughout the British colonial period with such intensity that at times during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, New York City had a larger slave population than any other city in North America.

Around the world today, slavery is still alive and well, generating billions of dollars along the supply chain of labor and products that make much of our daily lives possible. Though a crime in nearly every country, roughly 27 million people are enslaved worldwide today, including nearly 55,000 people in the United States. In the State Department’s 2010 report on human trafficking across the globe, the U.S. was identified as a “source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor, debt bondage, and forced prostitution.”

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Free the Slaves, slaves are found in nearly all 50 states, from farm fields and orchards to hotels, restaurants, private homes, factories, sweatshops, brothels, and construction sites. Immigrant populations, both documented and undocumented, are especially vulnerable, but native-born Americans are not immune to being enslaved and trafficked. New York, along with California, Florida and Texas, ranks among the states with the greatest incidence of documented slavery in the country.

PARTICIPANTS

* Chandra Bhatnagar, ACLU Human Rights Project Staff Attorney and counsel for 500 Indian men trafficked into the U.S. as “guestworkers”;

* John Bowe, award-winning investigative journalist and author of Nobodies: Modern American Slavery and the New Global Economy;

* Florrie Burke, Co-Chair of Freedom Network (USA), expert on the treatment of trafficking victims and one of the first social services respondents to Deaf Mexicans forced to sell trinkets on the New York City subway in the mid-1990s;

* Mia Nagawiecki and Betsy Gibbons, New York Historical Society;

* Renan Salgado, Farmworker Legal Services of New York;

* Ron Soodalter, author of Hanging Captain Gordon: The Life and Trial of an American Slave Trader and co-author with Kevin Bales of The Slave Next Door;

* Tina M. Stanford, Executive Director, New York State Office of Victims Services;

* Dr. Margaret Washington, Professor of History at Cornell University and Sojourner Truth biographer;

* Dr. Sherrill Wilson, urban anthropologist at forefront of effort to research, interpret and protect the African Burial Ground discovered in Lower Manhattan;

* Duane Vaughn, Executive Director of Wait House, an emergency shelter in Glens Falls for youth ages 16-21; and

* Dr. J.W. Wiley, Director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion, SUNY Plattsburgh.

SCHEDULE

December 3:

8 am-3 pm Educators Workshop at Heaven Hill Farm

7 pm-9 pm Slavery, Film & the Shaping of an American Conscience at Lake Placid Center for the Arts

December 4:

8 am-5 pm Anti-Slavery Convention at High Peaks Resort

5 pm-6 pm Wreath-laying Ceremony at John Brown Farm State Historic Site

9 pm-? Closing Reception at Northwoods Inn

“Slavery in New York? Slavery Today?” is co-sponsored by the freedom education project John Brown Lives!, John Brown Coming Home, the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, the National Abolition Hall of Fame, and the Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion at SUNY Plattsburgh. Participants include:

Slavery in New York, Slavery Today Event


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Teachers, librarians, local historians and teaching artists are invited to explore slavery in New York State, historically and today, with guest scholars, curriculum specialists, and front-line investigative reporters on Friday, December 3, 2010, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Heaven Hill Farm, on Bear Cub Road in Lake Placid, New York.

This conversation on slavery and human trafficking in the Empire State, will include special guests:

Margaret Washington, Professor of History at Cornell University and award-winning author of Sojourner Truth’s America, a groundbreaking biography examining the harsh realities of Dutch New York slavery that helped forge one of the nation’s greatest and most widely admired reformers.

John Bowe, prize-winning journalist and author of Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the Global Economy, an eye-opening look at labor abuse and cases of outright slavery in the U.S. today.

Cost: $55 per person includes a box lunch, lesson plans, and other resource materials. Reduced rates are available at $100 for 2 people or $150 for 3 people per institution. Books and other teaching tools will be available for purchase.

SLAVERY IN NEW YORK? SLAVERY TODAY? is part of the Anti-Slavery Convention in the Adirondacks on December 3-5, 2010 and is a joint program of John Brown Lives! and Center for Diversity, Pluralism & Inclusion at SUNY Plattsburgh.

For information and to pre-register contact Martha Swan (518-962-4758 mswan@capital.net) or Lindsay Pontius (518-962-8672 pontiusequus@aol.com).