HARPERS FERRY — Martin Delaney was born in Charles Town, a free black man. John Brown died there, in custody following his raid at nearby Harpers Ferry.
Both men were passionate about advancing the cause of abolition, but each had his own idea about how to achieve it.
This month, the lives of both men and their contributions are on display in separate events in Harpers Ferry.
Delaney, who would become the highest-ranking black U.S. Army officer during the Civil War, is featured as part of a special exhibit commemorating this year’s Black History month program, which opened on Feb. 5.
The exhibit, called “Running to Freedom: Fighting for Freedom,” highlights the account of Harpers Ferry’s role as a Union garrison town where runaway slaves sought refuge. As a child, Delaney himself, was also once forced to flee to Pennsylvania with his mother, a free woman of Angolan ancestry, who labored to make sure her children received an education.
The exhibit is on the second floor of the John Brown Museum in Harpers Ferry.
Delaney, who founded the newspaper North Star with Frederick Douglas, and took part in efforts in the formation of Liberia as a home for freed slaves, also worked with John Brown in setting up a meeting with supports of the abolitionist movement.
Brown will be the topic of discussion Feb. 21 at Harpers Ferry Middle School where a panel of writers and historians will discuss his legacy and relevance in the 21st century.
The panel will include Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tony Horwitz, who wrote both “Confederates in the Attic” and “Midnight Rising,” which is about Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859.
Joining Horwitz will be Harpers Ferry National Historical Park chief historian Dennis Frye and park ranger David Fox, along with Shenandoah University history professor James Bryant and John Rudy, adjunct professor of history at Gettysburg College.
The program is part of an ongoing development series offered by the park’s Office of Education through a grant from the Jefferson County Board of Education.
In addition to this event, Brown will also be the topic of a presentation by area author Bob O’Connor at the Deerfield Town Hall in Deerfield, Ohio, where Brown was raised, and later owned a mill in nearby present-day Kent but then known as Franklin Mills.
— Bob DuBose and Bob O’Connor contributed to this article.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Panel discussion on John Brown’s raid with author Tony Horwitz, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park historian Dennis Frye and park ranger David Fox, James Bryant, Shenandoah University history professor, and James Rudy, adjunct history professor at Gettysburg College.
WHERE: Harpers Ferry Middle School auditorium, Washington Street, Bolivar.
WHEN: Feb. 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
For more information, call Jeff Driscoll at 304-535-6053 or email Jeff_Driscoll@nps.gov.
Also, continuing through February: To commemorate Black History Month, the exhibit, “Running to Freedom: Fighting for Freedom” is on display at the John Brown Museum on Shenandoah Street in Harpers Ferry.