Juneteenth 2023

•Saturday June 17     •Sunday June 18      •Monday June 19th


5255  Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134 

Come Join the Abolitionists by Hugh C. Humphreys
Come Join the Abolitionists by Hugh C. Humphreys


Registration opens at noon on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134. The registration site includes information tables, parity snacks, sales, and exhibits including the Underground Railroad in New York State from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.


Admission to Saturday and Sunday is by donation.


Admission to the Monday afternoon  programs is $19 with paid reservations by June 10 to National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, PO 55, Peterboro NY 13134, or book your spot via Eventbrite.

Admission after May 31 is $30.


The exterior exhibits at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark are open dawn to dusk. 

The Peterboro United Methodist Church Sandwich Shop at the Smithfield Community Center will be open Saturday, June 17th from 12 – 5 pm for pick-up of sandwiches reserved at or 315-849-7540 by May 31.

Smithfield Community Center. Home of NAHOF
Smithfield Community Center

Smithfield Community Center


home to

National Abolition Hall of Fame & Museum

 5255 Pleasant Valley Rd

   Peterboro NY 13134 


More info...    


Day 1 ~ Saturday, June 17


Karol Kucinski, Co-Chair NAHOF Hall and Museum Committee, will introduce the four writers and their books which are at various stages of publication and which have connections to Peterboro and to the quest for freedom.

2:00 Honoring World War Casualties of Madison County, New York

At 2 pm Saturday, June 17 Madison County Historian Matthew Urtz will present his popular book Honoring World War Casualties of Madison County, New York, published by The History Press in August 2022. Urtz tells the harrowing stories and experiences of veterans provided by local newspapers, personal accounts, and interviews. Madison County answered the call to service and has left behind a generation of those who served in World War I and II, and lost their lives in service to freedom around the globe. 

Urtz was appointed the Madison County Historian in April of 2010. In October of 2014 Urtz, the Madison County Clerk’s Office and Madison/Oneida BOCES received the Excellence in the Education Use of Local Government Records by a Local Government award by the New York State Archives for their work incorporating local government documents into teachers’ lesson plans.  

 In October of 2013, the Madison County Historian’s Office started a project to record the stories of Veterans from Madison County. The project is ongoing and to date over 20 veterans stories have been recorded. In the fall of 2018, the historian’s office launched “History Where you Eat.”  The event features a brief history and tour of local historic restaurants. Close to 20 events have been offered since the program started and they have drawn over 1000 people to local restaurants. During the COVID pandemic Urtz conducted nearly 100 interviews with business owners, public officials, teachers, school superintendents, not for profit organizations and how the pandemic impacted them. In April of 2022, Urtz received the Emily Marshall Champion of Tourism by Madison County Tourism. 

2:40 On Freedom Road: Bicycle Explorations and Reckonings on the Underground Railroad

David Goodrich, Rockville MD, will relate how, in his publication On Freedom Road: Bicycle Explorations and Reckonings on the Underground Railroad, he followed the stories of Harriet Tubman, from where she was enslaved in Maryland, on the Eastern Shore, all the way to her family sanctuary at a tiny chapel in Ontario, Canada. Travelling south, he rode from New Orleans, where the enslaved were bought and sold, through Mississippi and the heart of the Delta Blues. Goodrich traveled to the Borderland along the Ohio River, a kind of no-mans-land between North and South in the years before the Civil War. There, slave hunters roamed both banks of the river, trying to catch people as they fled for freedom. He traveled to Oberlin, Ohio, a town that staunchly defended freedom seekers, embodied in the life of Lewis Leary, who was lost in the fires of Harpers Ferry, but his spirit was reborn in the Harlem Renaissance.

David Goodrich is a retired climate scientist who worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and served as the Director of the UN Global Climate Observing System in Geneva, Switzerland. 

In addition to cycling across the US, he has ridden down the Appalachians and across Montana, South Dakota, France and Spain. His earlier books, also from Pegasus, were A Hole in the Wind: A Climate Scientist’s Bicycle Journeys Across the US and A Voyage Across an Ancient Ocean: A Bicycle Journey Through the Northern Dominion of Oil. While following Harriet Tubman’s route from Maryland to Ontario, of course, Peterboro was one the sites he studied. 

3:20 Dreams of Freedom

Marilyn Higgins will share the stories that she writes in Dreams of Freedom, her first novel. In 1833, dark Irish, twenty-year-old Aileen O’Malley crosses the Atlantic and begins a decades-long journey to find her father and kidnapped half-siblings along the tumultuous Erie Canal corridor. She experiences religious bigotry, is stalked by a man she refused to marry in Ireland, and is unexpectedly aided in her search by a handsome American abolitionist. Their efforts to find the children are foiled by violence, prophets speaking of golden tablets, the death of her father, and utopian communities with unconventional sexual practices. When Aileen witnesses the suicide of slaves avoiding capture, and the painful displacement of the Haudenosaunee people, her faith is shaken and she embarks on an activist path to divert her new nation from the cruelty that haunted her native Ireland for centuries.


Marilyn Higgins has spent her life loving and working in the cities, small towns, and places of extraordinary natural beauty that comprise upstate New York.  Her passion for the area’s rich history and her belief in its profound impact on America’s national identity motivated her to write Dreams of Freedom. As the chief economic development officer for National Grid and later Syracuse University, she was told intriguing stories, visited mysterious mansions, and was shown the hidden artifacts of Erie Canal communities. Her fascination with these places continues. A twenty-year volunteer with the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, she is currently working with the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum and her home community of Canastota NY to promote Abolition Road, a public reenactment of the 1835 canal journey and walk of 104 abolitionists up a steep nine-mile hill to Peterboro to form the New York Anti-Slavery Society.

4:00 The Most Absolute Abolition: Runaways, Vigilance Committees, and the Rise of Revolutionary Abolitionism

Jesse Olsavsky will introduce his new book The Most Absolute Abolition: Runaways, Vigilance Committees, and the Rise of Revolutionary Abolitionism, 1835-1861, which tells the dramatic story of how vigilance committees organized the Underground Railroad and revolutionized the abolitionist movement. These groups, based primarily in northeastern cities, defended Black neighborhoods from police and slave catchers. As the urban wing of the Underground Railroad, they helped as many as ten thousand refugees, building an elaborate network of like-minded sympathizers across boundaries of nation, gender, race, and class. Based on the recorded testimony of thousands of freedom seekers who came to the vigilance committees and told their life stories, the book begins with the ways fugitives escaped slavery, grasped the political economy of slavery, developed their own political imaginations, and imparted their knowledge to abolitionists. It shows how these fugitive-abolitionist dialogues not only radicalized abolitionist sensibilities and tactics, but also inspired novel forms of feminism, prison abolition, reparationism, and utopian speculation. 

Olsavsky reveals how the committees cultivated a movement of ideas animated by a motley assortment of agitators and intellectuals, formerly enslaved runaways—who grasped the economy of slavery, developed their own political imaginations, and communicated strategies of resistance to abolitionists—serve as the book’s central focus. 

Jesse Olsavsky is an Assistant Professor of History at Duke Kunshan University, China. He is an historian who looks at slavery, abolition, and their long legacies. He is currently working on a book titled In the Tradition: The Abolitionist Tradition and Human Emancipation, which looks at how twentieth century movements, in both the US and numerous parts of the world studied, wrote about, and re-invoked the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement during their own struggles for self-determination. 

6:00 1850 Cazenovia Convention Drama

Courtesy Madison County Historical Society
Courtesy Madison County Historical Society

Students from the Music and Theater Arts Department at SUNY Broome in Binghamton NY will present portions of a drama written about the 1850 Cazenovia Convention by Julia Grella O’Connell.

Dr. O’Connell created the course From Spirituals to Hip Hop: American Music of the African Diaspora. Each semester Dr. O’Connell develops a project-based learning initiative to encourage her students to see the place of their own work in the stream of Black music history and creates an interactive capstone project in the interest of equity and of engaging students of diverse backgrounds. 

Dr. O’Connell created the course From Spirituals to Hip Hop: American Music of the African Diaspora. Each semester Dr. O’Connell develops a project-based learning initiative to encourage her students to see the place of their own work in the stream of Black music history and creates an interactive capstone project in the interest of equity and of engaging students of diverse backgrounds.

In the Fall of 2022, she created a musical living history program about the 1850 Fugitive Slave Convention in Cazenovia NY. Students perform the roles of various people who attended the Convention. 

7:00 Songs of Slavery and Emancipation

Film by  Mat Callahan, Bern Switzerland; Singer Alden Max Smith, Oneida, NY.

The film opens at 7 pm with the sight and sound of Max Smith, Co-Chair of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark’s Annual Peterboro Emancipation Day and a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro NY. Film producer Mat Callahan filmed in Peterboro and at Berea College in Kentucky. 


Songs of Slavery and Emancipation film, book, and CD, reveals recently discovered songs composed by enslaved people explicitly calling for resistance to slavery. Some songs originated as early as 1784 and others as late as the Civil War. The film also presents long-lost songs of the abolition movement, some written by fugitive slaves and free Black people, challenging common misconceptions of abolitionism.  Songs of Slavery and Emancipation features the lyrics of fifteen slave songs and fifteen abolitionist songs, placing them in historical context and making them available again to the general public. These songs not only express outrage at slavery but call for the destruction of the slave system. There can be no doubt as to their purpose: the abolition of slavery, the emancipation of African American people, and a clear and undeniable demand for equality and justice for all humanity. 

Day 2 ~ Sunday, June 18

10:00 AM Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark Guided Tour

Norman K. Dann PhD, author of Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform will guide a tour of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (5304 Oxbow Road, Peterboro NY 13134), a site on the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail and the national Underground Railroad trail (Network to Freedom).


Cris Amann, Co-Chair of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) Ongoing Abolition Committee and the Madison County Antiracism Collaborative,  a 2018 founder and a leader of the Hamilton Anti-Racism Coalition, and the lead for Madison County LGBTQIA Network hosted by BRiDGES will introduce three Power of the Pen campaigns that help continue the quest for freedom.

Democracy Needs Newspapers

Elijah Lovejoy
Elijah Lovejoy

Casey Pritchard will present Democracy Needs Newspapers. The most powerful 19th C. medium of communication with the general public were thousands of newspapers. Pritchard is a staff writer with the Rome Sentinel Media Company at 111 Langley Road in Rome NY. A former reporter with the Oneida Daily Dispatch, Casey has followed Peterboro history events for several years. Casey will share his thoughts on the example of Elijah Lovejoy who gave the ultimate to defend journalism for democracy. 

Amending The 13th Amendment

John Bailey will explain Amending the Thirteenth Amendment.19th C. letters were often long, and discussed tactics for pursuing social change, topics that might stimulate public interest and action, and ideas for establishing networking organizations. Using the Power of the Pen to write to fellow citizens could change a Constitutional Amendment.: 14 words in the 13th Amendment cause a loophole which allows governments and corporations to profit from cheap, incarcerated labor. This loophole, known as the punishment clause, explicitly permits “slavery” and “involuntary servitude” as “punishment for crime,” where the person has “been duly convicted.” John Bailey is a retired engineer living in Hubbardsville NY. He is a 2018 founder and a leader of the Hamilton Anti-Racism Coalition, a member of the Hamilton Friends Meeting (Quakers), a partner of the Madison County Anti-Racism Collaborative initiative, an activist, and he volunteers with local and international nonprofits.”

Meaning of the Confederate Flag

 Although the Battle Flag, commonly recognized today as the “Confederate Flag,” was never an official emblem of the Confederacy, it was often used in commemorative Civil War Ceremonies throughout the 19th Century. As early as 1939, the flag became a public symbol of the Ku Klux Klan. Insistence that the flag might primarily signify “States Rights” has been inextricably bound with slavery and with overt allegiance to white supremacy, racism, segregation, and resistance to Civil Rights.

Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge

2:00 Class Reunion of the Abolition Inductees of 2005

A "class reunion" of the 2005 inductees (given voice by scholars who know them well) will interact and call to mind the struggle for freedom, and reflect on the challenges ahead. Hosted by  Milton C. Sernett PhD.


Class of 2005 Abolition Inductees

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)      Lucretia Mott (1798-1880)

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879)       Gerrit Smith (1797-1874)

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)


As Dr. Sernett explains, “On October 25, 2005, the newly established National Abolition Hall of Fame inducted its first class of 19th-century abolitionists. The Hall of Fame is located on the second floor of the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro, New York. The building was a Presbyterian church when abolitionists organized the New York State Anti-Slavery Society in October 1835 after being mobbed out of Utica. 

 Gerrit Smith invited the abolitionists to come to Peterboro and he himself became an active abolitionist because of the convention in Peterboro. Subsequently he became one of America’s most prominent abolitionists and reformers. Smith’s four inductee companions were house guests of Ann and Gerrit Smith in their Peterboro home – with Douglass and Tubman several times. Our intent for Juneteenth 2023 is to hold a “class reunion” of the 2005 inductees. We imagine that Gerrit Smith invites the other inducted abolitionists to come back to Peterboro sometime after the Civil War. The inductees hosted by Smith, interact with one another, call to mind the struggle for freedom, and reflect on the challenges ahead. These veterans of the abolitionist crusade had many interpersonal connections. They were, to borrow a phrase from the historian Lawrence Friedman, “gregarious saints.” 

- Milton C. Sernett PhD will be the moderator of the panel. Sernett, professor emeritus Syracuse University in African American Studies and author of many publications including North Star Country: Upstate New York and the Crusade for African American will also be the voice of Frederick Douglass. 

- John Bowen M.D., a member of the NAHOF Cabinet of Freedom and a member of the NAHOF Induction Committee, will be the voice of William Lloyd Garrison. 

- Carol Faulkner PhD is Professor of History at Syracuse University, former member of the NAHOF Cabinet of Freedom, and author of Lucretia Mott's Heresy: Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. Faulkner will be the voice of Mott. 

- Norman K. Dann PhD, professor emeritus Morrisville State College, founder and former member of the Cabinet, and author of Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform will be the voice of Smith. 

- Kate Clifford Larson PhD, author of Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman Portrait of an American Hero, advisor for the movie Harriet, and consultant for the National Park Service Tubman sites in Cambridge MD and Auburn NY will be the voice of Tubman.

3:30 Recognizing Abraham Lincoln

The panel of 2005 Abolition Inductees to the Hall of Fame will be followed by Recognizing Abraham Lincoln with a wall mount to accompany his Dorothy Reister statue, a loan from Stone Quarry Hill Art Park. Though personally opposed to slavery, Lincoln was not an abolitionist. A political pragmatist, Lincoln’s public stance on slavery evolved over the years. He wrote and signed the Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863, and pushed for the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution that banned slavery.

2:00 ~ 4:00 Peterboro Area Museum is Open

 Across the Green at 4604 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134. 


Exhibits include Peterboro Glass, the Madison County Home for Destitute Children, Gerrit Smith’s Family and their accomplishments, the Underground Railroad in Peterboro, Early Businesses, Elizabeth Smith Miller’s Dress Reform, and Gerrit Smith Miller’s contributions to soccer and the Holstein Friesian cattle industry.


 The museum also has an extensive genealogical collection for families with a connection to Peterboro and the surrounding area.

Day 3 ~ Monday, June 19 - Juneteenth


The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will open and close the day by ringing the tower bells 19 times in commemoration of June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Texas were informed by arriving Union troops that they were free.

10:00 AM - Guided Tour Of Gerrit Smith Estate

Norman K. Dann PhD, author of Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform will guide a tour of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (5304 Oxbow Road, Peterboro NY 13134), a site on the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail and the national Underground Railroad trail (Network to Freedom). In the 1800s, the Estate was the home of Gerrit and Ann Smith and their daughter Elizabeth, all of whom gained national prominence in human freedom movements – along with cousin Elizabeth Cady (Stanton) who spent her summers in Peterboro. They worked both personally and politically to mobilize the public in support of the abolition of slavery and equal rights for women. 

Dann received his doctorate in interdisciplinary social sciences from Syracuse University, and is the author of several books on the Reform Era, with emphasis on the role played by members of the Smith family. Their passionate efforts to secure equitable treatment for all persons is a model for contemporary human rights efforts. Norm is also the head docent at the Gerrit Smith Estate giving historically based tours to interested parties, has participated as a consultant in televised documentaries, and delivers historical presentations at museums, historical societies, and libraries.

12:30  - Civil Rights Hero Fannie Lou Hamer

The Juneteenth afternoon sessions open with Kate Clifford Larson PhD presenting on her publication Walk with Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer. Using recently opened FBI records, secret Oval Office tapes, and interviews with Hamer colleagues and family, Dr. Larson reveals new details about how Fannie Lou Hamer, a poor Mississippi sharecropper with a sixth-grade education, faced down white supremacists, and challenged President Lyndon Johnson and national civil rights leaders to secure voting rights for all Americans during the 1960s.  The biography has been praised for its research and insights, and was named one of Kirkus Reviews best biographies of 2021.

Kate Clifford Larson PhD is an author of critically acclaimed biographies including Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, and Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. With two degrees from Simmons University, an MBA from Northeastern, and a doctorate in American History from the University of New Hampshire, Dr. Larson is an award-winning historical consultant who has worked on feature film scripts, documentaries, museum exhibits, curriculum guides, public history initiatives, heritage tourism products, and numerous publications. She is a primary consultant for the National Park Service Harriet Tubman sites in Auburn NY and Cambridge MD.

1:30 Teaching White Supremecy

Donald Yacovone PhD, lifetime Associate at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, will provide an early presentation in New York State of his autumn 2022 publication Teaching White Supremacy: America’s Democratic Ordeal and the Forging of our National Identity. The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which Yacovone wrote with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., won the 2014 NAACP Image Award.  The previous year, Yacovone received the W.E.B. Du Bois medal, Harvard’s highest honor in the field of African American studies. He earned a PhD at Claremont Graduate University and has taught at several colleges and universities. He helped edit the Black Abolitionist Papers, and before becoming the Manager of Research and Program Development at the Hutchins Center, Yacovone was the Senior Associate Editor of Publications at the Massachusetts Historical Society where he was a founder and editor of the Massachusetts Historical Review.  He has written widely on abolitionism, gender, the African American role in the Civil War, white supremacy, and American cultural history.

In Teaching White Supremacy, Donald Yacovone shows evidence of white supremacy’s deep-seated roots in our nation’s education system with an in-depth examination of America’s wide assortment of texts, from primary readers to college textbooks and other higher education course materials. Sifting through a wealth of materials, from the colonial era to today, Yacovone reveals the systematic ways in which white supremacist ideology has infiltrated American culture and how it has been at the heart of our collective national identity. Yacovone lays out the arc of America’s white supremacy from the country’s inception and Revolutionary years to its 19th century flashpoint of civil war; to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and today’s Black Lives Matter. The author argues that it is the North, not the South, that bears the greater responsibility for creating the dominant strain of race theory, inculcated throughout the culture and in school textbooks, that restricted and repressed African Americans and other minorities, even as Northerners blamed the South for its legacy of slavery, segregation, and racial injustice. The publication is a major assessment of how we got where we are today and of how white supremacy has suffused every area of American learning - from literature and science to medicine and law - and why this kind of thinking has endured for more than two centuries. 

2:30 - Our Right to Serve: The Black Cadets Who Challenged a President, Changed West Point, and Inspired an Army

Ty Seidule, retired U.S. Brigadier General and author of General Robert E. Lee and Me,  will present Our Right to Serve: The Black Cadets Who Challenged a President, Changed West Point, and Inspired an Army. Seidule is currently at Hamilton College in Clinton NY as the inaugural Joshua Chamberlain Fellow. He was former head of the history department and the first professor emeritus of history at West Point. Growing up in Alexandria VA, attending Robert E. Lee Elementary School, and graduating from Washington and Lee University and ROTC, Seidule grew up revering Robert E. Lee. From his southern childhood to his service in the U.S. Army, every part of his life at first reinforced the Lost Cause myth. Seidule joined the United States Army in 1984 as an officer. He served in the military for 36 years during which time he received his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Ohio State University. 


In General Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause, Seidule seeks a path to understanding why the facts of the Civil War have remained buried beneath layers of myth, challenges the deeply-held legends of the Confederacy, explores why some of this country’s oldest wounds have never healed, and provides an interpretation of essential truths that our country still has a difficult time articulating and accepting. In his article Black Power Cadets: How African American Students Defeated President Nixon’s Confederate Monument and Changed West Point 1971-76, (The Hudson River Valley Review: A Journal of Regional Studies, Autumn 2019, Marist College, pp.54 – 82.) Seidule explains how the Class of 1972 black cadets at the United States Military Academy worked within the institution to lead toward increased racial understanding, and prevented a Confederate monument on the campus.

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