Abby Speaks to the Generations

On September 5, 2015, Mount Gulian Historic Site, in Beacon, NY, celebrated the life of James F. Brown, an escaped slave from Maryland who made his way to freedom in New York State with the help of the Verplanck family. Brown became a master gardener, voter, property owner and community-minded activist in pre-Civil War Dutchess County, all while maintaining a unique journal of everyday life for almost 40 years.

The event, From Slave to Mr. Brown, included conversations with history professors, Gospel singing, an award winning short film and a performance of Yours for Humanity—Abby and took place in the family’s 1700s Dutch barn on the forty-four acre historic site.

At the end of my performance, John Rounds, from New Jersey, told me he was compelled to attend the event to “Hear Abby” as his great, great, great grandfather and grandmother had heard Abby speak in Salem, Ohio in the early 1840s. They were so moved, they named their daughter, Abigail.

These connections from the past to the present speak volumes about Abby’s strength and influence. Her words did change people’s hearts and minds wherever she spoke and young girls were named in her honor.*

*Salem, Ohio, was the location of the Anti-Slavery Bugle, the newspaper started and supported in large part by Abby. And in 1845, a young slave girl was “rescued” by a group of abolitionists and renamed Abby Kelley Salem. 

Published Date: 
September 22, 2015