"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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Friday, January 28, 2011

History Excerpted
W.E.B. DuBois addresses the second annual meeting of the Niagara Conference at Harper’s Ferry, West Va. (August 16, 1906)

We do not believe in violence, neither in the despised violence of the raid nor the lauded violence of the soldier, nor the barbarous violence of the mob, but we do believe in John Brown, in that incarnate spirit of justice, that hatred of a lie, that willingness to sacrifice money, reputation, and life itself on the altar of right.  And here on the scene of John Brown’s martyrdom, we reconsecrate ourselves, our honor, our property to the final emancipation of the race which John Brown died to make free.

Our enemies, triumphant for the present, are fighting the stars in their courses.  Justice and humanity must prevail.  We live to tell these dark brothers of ours–scattered in counsel, wavering, and weak–that no bribe of money or notoriety, no promise of wealth or fame, is worth the surrender of a people’s manhood or the loss of a man’s self-respect.  We refuse to surrender the leadership of this race to cowards and trucklers.  We are men; we will be treated as men.  On this rock we have planted our banners.  We will never give up, though the trump of doom finds us still fighting. 

". . . we do believe in John Brown, in that incarnate spirit of justice, that hatred of a lie, that willingness to sacrifice money, reputation, and life itself on the altar of right."

And we shall win! The past promised it.  The present foretells it.  Thank God for John Brown.  Thank God for Garrison and Douglass, Sumner and Phillips, Nat Turner and Robert Gould Shaw, and all the hallowed dead who died for freedom.  Thank God for all those today, few though their voices be, who have not forgotten the divine brotherhood of all men, white and black, rich and poor, fortunate and unfortunate.

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