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.
Back on June 28th, 2012 an article here at Nolan Chart reported that the Confederate War College established a clock to help illustrate whether the environment within the United States was favorable to the idea of states seceding from the Union. The original setting of the clock was 6 Pm, the point furthest from twelve o’clock. This setting was to be the starting point, and it was stated that the clock was originally set as far away from twelve as is possible. [Read the rest of the article.]
The Confederate War College cites a number of reasons why it might be time to reset the clock, but there is little talk about what happens afterward. Luckily, General Charles Goodson of the New Confederate Army is waiting in the wings.
Before moving to Boston last year I sold somewhere around 700 books. If you live in the Charlottesville area you are likely to find most of them at Daedalus Used Books on 4th street downtown. Now as I look around the shelves are beginning to fill up once again.
This weekend I head to upstate New York for a conference sponsored by John Brown Lives! On Friday evening I will host a public screening of the movie Glory at the Palace Theater in Lake Placid for the general public and the following day will do a workshop on the movie for area history teachers. [There are still slots available if you are in the area and interested. You do not need to be a teacher to attend.] I am putting together a little packet for each teacher that includes a selection of Col. Robert Gould Shaw’s letters that will hopefully help them to think beyond the movie.
This little passage to wife Annie caught my eye:
There is a blue-eyed, yellow haired, white-skinned, black preacher out here, who has great influence among the blacks. He wants to go as chaplain, and I think I shall take him; he looks so much like a white man, that I don’t believe there would be much prejudice against it. I think I should care very little for public opinion, if it did no harm to the regiment. It would be out of the question to have any black, field or line, officers at present, because of public sentiment. It ruined the efficiency of the Louisiana coloured regiments…. [March 17, 1863]
There is quite a bit to unpack in this brief passage.