John Brown and Frederick Douglass Live!

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Just returned from a weekend in Lake Placed, New York where I took part in a conference sponsored by a small grassroots organization called John Brown Lives!  The conference brought together historians, teachers, students, and activists working to end modern day slave trafficking.  It was an incredibly enjoyable and intellectually stimulating weekend.  Many of you are no doubt aware that John Brown’s home and his burial site are in Lake Placid hence the name of the organization.

We talked mainly about the history and memory of emancipation from a number of different perspectives.  David Blight talked about emancipation during the centennial and sesquicentennial; Margaret Washington focused on female abolitionists; and Franny Nudleman led a fascinating discussion about how the Emancipation Proclamation is discussed in history textbooks.  I contributed by hosting a public screening of the movie Glory that was attended by roughly 100 people on Friday evening.  We discussed how the movie depicts black soldiers as well as its interpretation of emancipation and the following day I led a discussion about specific scenes in the movie that went into much more detail.

The most interesting talk by far came from Ken Morris, who is the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington and the co-founder of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation.  Ken’s presentation on modern day slave trafficking and his current campaign called “100 Days to Freedom” was incredibly inspiring.  You can learn more about it in this cute video that was produced by his two daughters.   I encourage teachers to get their students involved.  It’s an incredible way to bridge the present and the past in the classroom.

Since many of us stayed at a beautiful private home on the lake the conversations went well into the wee hours of the night.  Needless to say I am very tired, but I return home energized and with the mental juices flowing.  Thanks so much to Martha Swan, who invited me to take part this weekend.

7 comments… add one

  • Alice Keesey Mecoy Dec 2, 2012

    Enjoyed meeting you this weekend. I am looking forward to more interesting discussions!

    • Kevin Levin Dec 3, 2012

      Same here Alice. Thanks so much for schlepping me around this weekend and for sharing your stories about your connection to John Brown. I am sure we will run into one another again.

  • Bummer Dec 3, 2012

    Kevin,

    How was the audience reaction to Glory

    Bummer

    • Kevin Levin Dec 3, 2012

      Audience clapped at the end followed by a wonderful discussion.

  • Brad Dec 5, 2012

    That video was fantastic! Great job by the family.

  • Kenneth B Morris Jr Mar 29, 2013

    Hi Kevin, thank you for sharing our work with your readers. BTW, I really enjoyed your book. Hope all is well. Best regards, Ken Morris

    • Kevin Levin Mar 29, 2013

      Hi Ken. So nice to hear from you. It was my pleasure and thanks for the kind words about the book. So glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

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