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.
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.