20 August 2017: Valley News

Woodstock Rally Counters Demonstrations of Hate


18 August 2017:  Valley News

Vermont to Honor Abolitionist John Brown


8 August 2017 Press Release: John Brown Day (Brad Archer)

On May 5, the Vermont Legislature adopted a resolution naming October 16th “John Brown Day,” to honor the legacy of the radical abolitionist famed for his 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Many credit this attempt to raise an army against slavery, which he described as the “sum of all villainess,” with providing the spark that ignited the Civil War. In creating this holiday, Vermont became the first state to celebrate this controversial and courageous figure. 

The push for officially honoring Brown began with Brad Archer, a Woodstock High School social studies teacher.  Archer, who describes himself as having “profound respect for Brown’s willingness to take direct action at a time when other abolitionists merely spoke out” against slavery, contacted Woodstock-area state senator Allison Clarkson to ask if she would sponsor a “Brown Day” resolution. Clarkson replied, requesting that Archer find a Brown-Vermont connection. A quick search led to work by local historian, Howard Coffin, who had previously found evidence that Brown had traveled to the Green Mountain State to raise funds for his activism. As well, the executed abolitionist’s body stayed overnight in Rutland en route to its final resting place, near Lake Placid. 
Archer, along with Woodstock residents Sonny Saul, Mary Ellen Solon, and Jackie Fischer, have since founded the Woodstock Social Justice Initiative. As the group’s first event, they have planned a “John Brown Day” anti-racism conference, to be held in Woodstock on Saturday, October 14.  The aim of the event is to empower Vermonters with the tools needed to identify and fight against racism.