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Emancipation Anniversary celebrates North Country abolitionists

Artist Robert Shetterly speaks to students and teachers at the Emancipation Proclamation Celebration on Nov. 30. Shetterly stands next to a portrait of Harriet Tubman. Shetterly's portraits of famous abolitionists were displayed throughout the celebration weekend.

Artist Robert Shetterly speaks to students and teachers at the Emancipation Proclamation Celebration on Nov. 30. Shetterly stands next to a portrait of Harriet Tubman. Shetterly's portraits of famous abolitionists were displayed throughout the celebration weekend. Photo by Katherine Clark.

— Over the course of event, Morris talked about slavery in Douglass’ time and today, and encourage audiences, especially students and teachers, to gather signatures for the New Proclamation of Freedom. People can go to www.FDFF.org to sign the petition and learn more about the fight against slavery today.

Artist Robert Shetterly’s portraits of Lincoln, Douglass, John Brown, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and other 19th century leaders were on display throughout the weekend along with a facsimile of Lincoln’s first Emancipation Proclamation on loan from the New York State Library’s Manuscript and Special Collections Division.

Shetterly said on Nov. 30 it was his quest for truth and honesty in the government which inspired him to start painting freedom fighters. As if it were the first time students had been told their government was not always honest with them. He elaborated on a famous Douglass quote “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them,” to illustrate the government has led us to inhumane choices such as slavery and war.

“No body wants to hear the government is lying to them. Theoretically governments are there to trust and to understand you are purposefully being mislead, who do you believe in, who can you trust,” Shetterly said. “It puts you in a very difficult position.”

Among the other participants and events were writer Amy Godine on Adirondackers with roots in anti-slavery and civil rights movements, a screening of the popular Civil War film, Glory, at The Palace Theater in Lake Placid, in conjunction with the Adirondack Film Society, a lecture on women and emancipation by Dr. Margaret Washington, Sojourner Truth biographer and Cornell University Professor of History, and a keynote address by historian David Blight on the historical memory of the Civil War and emancipation.

All events were part of Freedom Then, Freedom Now: The Long History of Emancipation sponsored by John Brown Lives!, North Country Community College, and the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation.

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