JBL! Statement on the Murder of George Floyd

John Brown Lives! (JBL!) grieves the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the countless other black lives that have been taken at the hands of law enforcement and vigilantism. Black Lives Matter, and JBL! stands in solidarity with our black sisters and brothers in the face of the on-going national sin of white supremacy and racism. We stand with the Black community and all people of color in saying it is not enough to be non-racist: We must actively become anti-racist and require that all government agencies create policies that counter racism at every level. Police agencies must be reformed to serve the community, not defend the status quo. The moral arc of our times must bend toward justice, freedom and equality for ALL.

We grieve all the lives lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic and decry the structural racism that has disproportionately put people of color in harm’s way.

We cry out against Governor Cuomo’s refusal to grant compassionate release to people in our prisons—the elderly, the sick, those who’ve served decades—who pose no threat to society yet are threatened with death from this disease. For them and their families, their vulnerability is both torturous and unjust.

JBL! believes that an honest reckoning with our national history is the way forward—a reckoning impossible without first understanding what American Studies and history professor, the late James O. Horton described as “slavery’s diversity, longevity, complexity and centrality” to the American story. In the spirit of the great abolitionist John Brown, that has been our mission since we first began.

We are committed to amplifying black voices, the voices and demands of people of color. We are committed to educating ourselves, our children, our communities and our representatives in government on the systemic racism that continues to take the lives of people of color. We actively seek replacement of those systems that are unfair and unjust.

For those of us who are white, we are committed to using our privilege to speak out and take action individually and collectively that empower our communities to end white supremacy while at the same time acknowledging the extraordinary resilience, ingenuity and immeasurable contributions of Black Americans to the life, wealth and very existence of our country, our economy and our democracy.

Today we stand, tomorrow we stand.  We stand until, working together, we end the systems of white supremacy that are taking black lives. Black Lives Matter!!



Abolitionist, Prophetic Voice, Man of Action
In the eternal struggle for human rights, few have stood taller in the fight than John Brown.

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For Freedom, Human Rights and Climate Justice
These are the battles of our time. We won’t—we can’t—wait for change. In the spirit of John Brown, we make change happen.

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“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation … we all need mercy, we all need justice, and—perhaps—we all need some measure of unmerited grace.”

Bryan S., Educator, NEH Summer Institute

“I wanted to thank you [JBL!] for another awesome experience. Listening to Janet McFetridge, Lewis Papenfuse and Dr. Barbara Ransby opened my mind and heart so much more. I hope I never stop learning or caring.”

Mark R. after attending John Brown Day 2019

“Martha, it was wonderful to meet you, and feel much enlivened by finding people so engaged in history, and weighing in on all its dichotomies and contradictions. Who knew in a place that still feels remote in this modern age that the spark of interest in history would be glowing brightly. “

~Fred M.
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Director reflects on John Brown Lives! at 20 Oct. 18, 2019 (Lake Placid News)

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Martha Swan, John Brown Lives! July 26, 2019 (Lake Placid News)

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John Brown honoree: ‘We have much work to do’

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