A biographer who has written extensively about John Brown, a civil rights activist who marched in Selma and a memorial honoring a youth leader who introduced countless city youth to the Adirondacks will highlight John Brown Day 2015.
The annual event will be held Saturday, May 9, from 2 to 4 pm at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid. It is free and open to the public.
Speakers at the event, an annual celebration honoring the life and legacy of abolitionist John Brown, include biographer Louis DeCaro and civil rights activist Dr. James H. Carter.
DeCaro is author of several books about John Brown. He will publish two more this year: Freedom’s Dawn: The Last Days of John Brown in Virginia, and a companion volume, John Brown Speaks: Letters and Statements from Charlestown. DeCaro is associate professor of church history at the New York City campus of the Alliance Theological Seminary.
Carter, a retired educator, participated in the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama, while a student at Alabama State University in 1965. Now retired, he ultimately became superintendent of schools in Selma. He is currently on the board of College for Every Student, an organization that helps low-income youth prepare for, gain access to and succeed in college.
The program will also celebrate the life of Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi Burgess, an activist and youth leader who exposed countless underprivileged youths from the Albany area to the Adirondacks. Brother Yusuf was committed to connecting students to the black history of the Adirondacks and to nature. To make those things an integral part of students’ lives, he led them on hikes, paddling trips, archaeological digs, and other adventures.
“On John Brown Day, the past meets the present and history meets human rights,” executive director of John Brown Lives! Martha Swan said in a statement announcing this year’s event. “‘The theme of this year’s celebration–Black Lives Matter! All Lives Matter! — is resonant with all that Brown and his family lived and died for.”
The event is held annually to mark the birthday of Brown, who was born May 9, 1800. Brown moved to his farm in North Elba in 1849 before leaving for Kansas in 1855 to support his sons’ efforts to keep the, state free of slavery; the rest of his family stayed behind. Brown is best known for the raid he led on the U.S. Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. in which he and his followers had hoped to take weapons from the armory and use them to liberate slaves in the South. Though the uprising was ultimately quelled – 10 of his supporters, including two of his sons, were killed in the raid, and Brown was executed for treason – historians consider the raid a significant precursor to Civil War.
In case of inclement weather, John Brown Day will be held at the Adirondack Community Church at 2583 Main Street in Lake Placid.