The Price Of Liberty
Honor John Brown and Nat Turner

The year 2000 is the two hundredth anniversary of the births of John Brown and Nat Turner, as well as the two hundredth anniversary of Gabriel's Rebellion that inspired them.

Nat Turner and John Brown symbolize the abolitionist cause of the nineteenth century. When slavery was the law of the land and respectable people found reasons to make their peace with it, those two made war to the death against it. Those who think it saner to submit to evil than to resist it have labeled them madmen, but it was not for their madness they were hanged.

The rebellion of Nat Turner, a black man, was a high point in a centuries-long tradition of resistance that has always charted the country's way forward. John Brown, nominally white, was deeply shaped by black resistance and embodied the hope that so-called whites can step out of their color and take part in building a new human community. Both Turner and Brown were part of a chain of events that led to the Civil War, when black Americans took the lead in breaking the shackles that bound them and the entire country to the slave system.

If the task of the nineteenth century was to overthrow slavery and the task of the twentieth century was to end legal segregation, the key to solving this country's problems in the twenty-first century is to abolish the white race as a social category. We call upon those who share the vision of a country without racial walls to join hands on May 6 at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

On that day, we will honor Nat Turner and John Brown and rededicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the tasks for which they and countless others laid down their lives. It is, we believe, fitting that we do so at Harper's Ferry, the scene of Brown's raid on the federal arsenal, not too far from Southampton, Virginia, where Turner began his rebellion, and Henrico, Virginia, where Gabriel struck the spark.

Others will gather at the Brown Family Farm in North Elba, New York and in Osawatomie Kansas, the scene of the first blows struck by Brown against the slave power. We urge those who cannot come to Harper's Ferry to consider attending one of those memorials, or the one in California. For more information, contact the New Abolitionist Society at the Boston address at the left, or see our website.

new abolitionist society
copyright 1999