August 2020

Dear Friend of John Brown Lives!

Extraordinary, these times. Extraordinary for the challenges each of us are facing personally, organizationally and as a nation.

Extraordinary, too, for the history- and change-making opportunities of this moment and because YOU have shown that even in these most challenging times, human rights, racial justice and equity matter to YOU as much as they do to John Brown Lives!

And also extraordinary because of a matching grant opportunity from the Pomeroy Fund for New York State History.  Between now and September 30th, Pomeroy will match every donation we receive up to $6,000 by 50%.

We’ll tell you about that in a minute but first we are eager to bring you up to date on the impact we are having because of the work your unwavering support makes possible. Despite moving away from traditional in-person programming because of the pandemic, we have provided safe and meaningful ways for the community to engage in conversation and take action for racial justice.

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, JBL! installed the powerful and moving Memorial Field for Black Lives created by local artist Karen Davidson Seward at the John Brown Farm. Starting with eight memorial markers on Juneteenth, Karen has continued to create memorials that bear silent witness to the Black women, men and children killed by police or white vigilante violence. Now, there are 50 markers.

Black lives have always mattered at the John Brown Farm and most people who visit are deeply moved and grateful that Karen’s raw, quiet, heart-racing memorial is there. We are, too.

You may have heard about the incident earlier this summer involving an intoxicated off-duty police officer who reported a confrontation with Black youth on a country road here in Essex County, fired his service weapon, and then later recanted to the State Police. No charges were brought against the officer and the case was closed and went without notice for nearly two months until the story broke in the Albany Times-Union.

John Brown Lives! was extremely alarmed by what was reported so we spearheaded a collaborative community effort to pressure Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague to open an investigation. Working with attorney Matthew Melewski and Nicky Hylton-Patterson,
Director of Adirondack Diversity Initiative, we circulated a letter that at last count has been signed by 846 people demanding accountability from the DA. Our Executive Director Martha Swan, Nicky and Matt delivered the people’s letter to the office of the DA on August 6 and then held a press conference on the steps of the courthouse.  JBL!’s leadership, the strong community response and YOUR desire for justice and accountability have made this incident national and even international news. We assure you that we will keep the pressure on.

YOU make the difference John Brown Lives! makes possible! Your voice, your willingness to stand for others, your support of JBL! are vital to all we do. That is why we are asking for a gift of $50, $100 or more, to make the most of the Pomeroy Fund matching grant. Between now and September 30th , Pomeroy will match every donation by 50 percent. Your gift, and Pomeroy’s match, will take us nearly half-way to our summer goal of $20,000.

As JBL! board members, we are proud of the work we accomplish together. Embarking on our third decade, we need you with us to meet the urgencies and challenges of these extraordinary times.

We could tell you more about how your support engages, enriches and changes lives but we’re eager to get this letter in your hands so that we can achieve the Pomeroy match and reach our fundraising goal of $20,000.

Remember. Until the end of September $50 become $75, $100 becomes $150, $1,000 becomes $1,500. Together we can—and must–do extraordinary things in these most extraordinary of times.

In solidarity, with appreciation,

Margaret Washington                                                 Jeff Jones
JBL! board member                                                     JBL! board president

John Brown Lives is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and your donation is tax-deductible.

EIN: 45-4553106   Our IRS letter is available by request.

You can send a check to John Brown Lives! PO Box 357  Westport, NY 12993 or donate through PayPal here: