John Brown's Body Lies-a-Mouldering, But His Reputation Changes | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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John Brown's Body Lies-a-Mouldering, But His Reputation Changes

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Today marks 150 years since John Brown led a band of 18 abolitionists on a mission to seize a federal arsenal and arm the slaves of Virginia. The most basic facts are there, but how people view those events has changed over time.

Alice Keesey Mecoy's family knows this. She is a great, great great grand daughter of John Brown. She is very proud of her ancestor.

"He was for equality of all people, not just slaves, he wanted women and men to be equal, and everyone to be treated the same."

But up until Mecoy's generation, her family didn't ever talk about being related to John Brown. They were ashamed.

"In the early 1900's, John Brown was not viewed favorably - he was a 'murderer', a 'terrorist', so people were not willing to admit it as much," said Mecoy.

John Brown's violent methods were controversial then and now. For a long time, he was hated in the South. So much so that fifty years ago in 1959 the National Park Service couldn't even mark the 100th anniversary of the raid because of political pressure. That was at a time when desegregation was still a dirty word in some parts. Attitudes today reflect how times have changed.

The raid's anniversary is being marked with a week of celebrations, lectures, plays and tours. You can find more about those events by clicking [here (http://www.johnbrownraid.org/events).

Sabri Ben-Achour reports...

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