|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||August 15, 2006|
Racine Tucker-Hamilton, 301-922-8417
100-Year Civil Rights Milestone Celebrated at Harpers Ferry National Park
Conservation Group Joins National Park Service, NAACP to Commemorate Historic Niagara Movement Centennial
harpers Ferry, WV − The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today joins the National Park Service and the Jefferson County, West Virginia NAACP in celebrating the centennial of the historic Niagara Movement—cornerstone of the modern-day civil rights movement and forerunner of the oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP.
“Visitors to Harpers Ferry can learn about and reflect upon the Niagara Movement, which played a critical role in shaping African American history and our history as a nation,” said Joy Oakes, NPCA Mid-Atlantic regional director.
On August 15, 1906, the Niagara Movement, led byauthor and scholar W.E.B. DuBois, held its first meeting on American soil on the campus of Storer College, now part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The three-day gathering, held to discuss how to secure civil rights for African Americans, was later described by DuBois as “one of the greatest meetings that American Negroes ever held.” Attendees of the 1906 meeting walked from Storer College to the nearby farm of the Murphy family, then the site of the historic fort where John Brown’s quest to free four million enslaved African Americans reached its bloody climax.
Today, visitors to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park can experience this history at the place where original Niagara Movement participants marched, because Murphy Farm was preserved in 2002. At that time, the 99-acre privately owned Murphy Farm was threatened by plans for extensive development. NPCA and a broad coalition successfully blocked construction of a proposed housing subdivision and advocated for the incorporation of the historic land into Harpers Ferry National Historical Park so that its role in the Niagara Movement could be preserved for generations.
“If the Niagara Movement hadn’t taken place, the civil rights movement in this country would be years behind the times,” said George Rutherford, director of the Jefferson County NAACP. “This country would be nowhere near where we are right now in terms of civil rights.”
Descendants of the original Niagara Movement will recreate the historic walk from Storer College to Murphy Farm on Sunday, August 19, 2006, as part of the centennial festivities.