October 16, 2009


Today is the 150th anniversary of the raid by John Brown and twenty-one courageous others on Harpers Ferry that sparked the Second American Revolution, otherwise known as the "Civil War." We're still in need of a Third Revolution, one that abolishes white supremacy and wage slavery.  In that spirit, I'm reprinting a statement by Noel Ignatiev and the Race Traitor editorial collective that was read at Brown's gravesite at a memorial event in 1999 honoring the abolitionist's birth:

Renew the Legacy of John Brown

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 - in other words, eradicate white supremacy entirely.

John Brown represents the abolitionist cause. Nominally white, he made war against slavery, working closely with black people. Those who think it saner to collaborate with evil than to resist it have labeled him a madman, but it was not for his madness that he was hanged; no, it was for obeying the biblical injunction to remember them that are in bonds as bound with them. For those who suffer directly from white supremacy, John Brown is a high point in a centuries-long history of resistance; for so-called whites he is the hope that they can step outside of their color and take part in building a new human community.

John Brown's body lies a-mould'rin' in the grave, but his soul calls out to the living. He is buried alongside family members and comrades-at-arms near North Elba, New York, in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains, which he often said had been placed there to serve the emancipation of the American slave. For many years African Americans and others celebrated May 9th, the anniversary of his birth, by gathering at his gravesite. We call upon those who share the vision of a country without racial walls to join hands there in 1999 (his one hundred and ninety-ninth year) to honor his memory and the memory of the others, black and white, who fought alongside him, and to rededicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the tasks for which they laid down their lives.

Signed by:
Russell Banks, Derrick Bell, John Bracey, Robin D.G. Kelley, Martin Espada, Herbert Hill, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Theresa Perry, Ishmael Reed, David Roediger, Sapphire, Pete Seeger, Dorothy Sterling, Cornel West, Howard Zinn, and the editors of RACE TRAITOR.


Frances Madeson said...

“We're still in need of a Third Revolution, one that abolishes white supremacy and wage slavery.”

From Communiqué from an Absent Future http://wewanteverything.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/communique-from-an-absent-future/

“We work and we borrow in order to work and to borrow. And the jobs we work toward are the jobs we already have. Close to three quarters of students work while in school, many full-time; for most, the level of employment we obtain while students is the same that awaits after graduation. Meanwhile, what we acquire isn’t education; it’s debt. We work to make money we have already spent, and our future labor has already been sold on the worst market around. Average student loan debt rose 20 percent in the first five years of the twenty-first century—80-100 percent for students of color. Student loan volume—a figure inversely proportional to state funding for education—rose by nearly 800 percent from 1977 to 2003. What our borrowed tuition buys is the privilege of making monthly payments for the rest of our lives. What we learn is the choreography of credit: you can’t walk to class without being offered another piece of plastic charging 20 percent interest. Yesterday’s finance majors buy their summer homes with the bleak futures of today’s humanities majors."

HumanProject said...

WWJBD? Where is the guy!

I was surprised that National Public Radio did a story today covering how "Across the country, people are honoring the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown's unsuccessful raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry."


The public at large has given its consent to wage slavery; it's not seen as immoral, just the way things are.

There's also plenty of 'real' slavery around, of the 'Disposable people' and human trafficking kind, but no John Brown even when human beings are bought and sold.