NAACP Retraces History at Harpers Ferry; Civil Rights Organization to Hold Meetings at Historic Locations Leading Up to 100th Anniversary

Article excerpt

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va.

There was an air of serenity and purpose as a vintage train unloaded more than 125 passengers in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., last month to fulfill a mission begun by W.E.B. Du Bois in 1932. That year, Du Bois attempted to pay tribute to abolitionist John Brown by placing what has been described as "The Great Tablet" near the site where Brown led an insurrection at Harpers Ferry to free slaves. However, officials at historically Black Storer College, which was near the site, refused to allow Du Bois to place the plaque, describing the wording as too militant.

But 74 years later, the NAACP sought to complete the Harpers Ferry pilgrimage on the eve of the organization's 97th national convention held in Washington, D.C., last month.

West Virginia NAACP members, Storer alumni and others joined NAACP Chair Julian Bond, Vice Chair Roslyn M. Brock, and NAACP President and CEO Bruce S. Gordon to lay a wreath and unveil the Great Tablet on the grounds of Storer College, which closed in 1955. Former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin L. Hooks presided over the event.

"Today we come back to finish what W.E.B. Du Bois started in 1932," said Hooks.

The tablet included the same language, design and layout as the original. …