"Posterity will owe everlasting thanks to John Brown for lifting up once more to the gaze of a nation grown fat and flabby on the garbage of lust and oppression, a true standard of heroic philanthropy, and each coming generation will pay its installment of the debt. . . . John Brown saw slavery through no mist or cloud, but in a light of infinite brightness, which left no one of its ten thousand horrors concealed." Frederick Douglass

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Monday, September 21, 2009


John Brown's Akron Celebrates His Legacy:
Jacob Lawrence's "The Legend of John Brown" on Exhibit; Other Events Featured

This fall marks the 150th anniversaries of John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, a pivotal event in igniting the Civil War, and his Dec. 2, 1859 execution. To commemorate Akron’s most famous historic resident, the Akron Art Museum presents selections from Jacob Lawrence’s print series The Legend of John Brown. The exhibition will be on view from Oct. 16 to Feb. 14, 2010. Lawrence, one of the most significant American artists of the 20th century, was the first African American to depict the story of the controversial white abolitionist.

Lawrence’s screenprints, which are owned by the museum, will be joined by related images and artifacts from the Summit County Historical Society and the Akron-Summit County Public Library Special Collections Division.

A Northerner, Brown (1800-1859) worked on farms in Northeast Ohio before moving to Akron in 1844. An expert breeder of sheep and respected authority on wool, he attracted the attention of fellow shepherd Simon Perkins, Jr., the son of Akron’s founder. The two formed a business partnership and Brown moved into a two-room cottage yards away from Perkins’ own mansion.

Brown’s religious convictions led him to oppose slavery. While working with Perkins, he remained an active abolitionist and regularly housed slaves moving through the Underground Railroad in his Akron home. Now part of the Summit County Historical Society, it houses a permanent display about Brown’s life.

In contrast with the northern pacifist attitude, Brown believed that militant actions were the only way to end slavery. In the mid-1850s, he organized covert attacks in an attempt to liberate slaves and bring down the pro-slavery establishment. In 1859, with a company of 21 men—white and black—he led a raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He was captured and hanged for treason on December 2. While historians agree that Brown’s actions helped spark the Civil War, his dogged determination and the violence of his methods have been hailed as both heroic and foolhardy.
Jacob Lawrence’s screenprints frame the story as a narrative, which is the depiction of a particular story in either painted or graphic form. Each image presents a specific incident in Brown’s dramatic life. Rather than depicting these events in a realistic manner, Lawrence tells the story using sparse details rendered with simplified forms and vibrant colors, which heightens each scene’s emotion.

Lawrence (1917-2000), who lived in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, was the first African American artist to be included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He was a storyteller who used the visual arts to interpret and disseminate important events in American history. His prominence as an artist undoubtedly helped perpetuate the remarkable story of John Brown’s life as an abolitionist.

This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by a gift from Akron General.



Related Community Events

Akron-Summit County Public Library John Brown exhibit
On View through December 31
Visit Special Collections to see the Summit County’s John Brown exhibit, including historical artifacts from Akron during the era and small glimpses into all the different time periods of his life: moving to Hudson, Ohio as a young boy, his own life as a husband and father, business failures, the infamous raid at Harpers Ferry and finally his hanging as a traitor in 1859.

150th Anniversary of the Harpers Ferry Raid at the Akron Zoo
October 16, 11 am
A commemorative event will be held at the Akron Zoo grounds and the John Brown Monument in Perkins Woods.

The Passion of John Brown by the Akron Symphony Orchestra
October 17, 8 pm
The Akron Symphony will perform a new work, commissioned for the Akron sesquicentennial commemoration, “The Passion of John Brown,” by Malone College professor Jesse Ayers, in a concert remembering the heroic works of historic figures. The concert will be held at E.J. Thomas Hall.

150th Anniversary of John Brown’s Execution
December 2
To commemorate the day of the execution of John Brown, on December 2, 2009, the City of Akron and Summit County Historical Society will hold a memorial event in collaboration with the First Presbyterian Church on East Market Street in Akron.


Museum Information
Address: One South High, Akron, OH 44308
Tel: 330.376.9185
Fax: 330.376.1180
Website: www.AkronArtMuseum.org
Gallery and Store Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm, Thursday: 11 am – 9 pm, Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
CafĂ© Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 11 am – 3 pm, Thursday: 11 am – 7:30 pm; Closed Monday and Tuesday
Library Hours: Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: 11 am – 4 pm
Admission: Adult general admission is $7, Student and Senior (65+) general admission is $5, Children (12 and under) are FREE, members are FREE. On the first Sunday of every month, individual admissions to the collection are FREE. Special exhibitions may require paid admission. No tours available on these days.

Source: The Suburbanite.com [Akron, Ohio], September 21, 2009

1 comment:

Heros of Abolition said...

I was unable to find an email address for this blog so I am leaving my message as a comment. I am the owner of http://heroesofabolition.blogspot.com/ . The blog contains contains a short book about John Henry Kagy. The book documents the history of the Meyhew Cabin in Nebraska. See http://www.mayhewcabin.org/. Please consider adding links to both of the URLs in this comment. Thanks. P. S. Sadly, slavery is still alive and well. See http://www.antislaveryinternational.org for current updates on slavery.