Madison County organization prepares to host anti-racism collaboration

A series of presentations this weekend in rural Madison County aim to inspire people to take a closer look at the roots of racism and how to end it. The Anti-Racism Collaborative is hosted by the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro.

President Dorothy Willsey said the organization had discovered in previous, smaller programs that there was a hunger to learn more about what they call a second ongoing abolition.

People wanted to do something about racism, but were also reluctant to participate in a parade or demonstration,Willsey said.And then knowing that in our own county there were groups that were trying to build anti-racism programs, so as a national organization looking at our own rural county, we felt that we had to at least try to bring people together , so maybe we could share the resources.

Many central New Yorkers may not know that Peterboro was where abolitionists formed the New York State Anti-Slavery Society in 1835. Willsey said they were driven out of Utica where they had d first tried to meet.

Gerrit Smith, the wealthy abolitionist, said, “Come to Peterboro,” and so 400 of the 600 delegates walked or rode a horse-drawn carriage – or some went by boat to Canastota – and ended up here,“, Willsey said.

Willsey said the story serves as a backdrop for what they hope people will take away. Saturday Presentation Series. One will explain five “Power of the Pen” campaigns, including one about removing words from the 13th Amendment that banned slavery but still allowed prison labor.

“It has been misused and misinterpreted to this day where municipalities and corporations use prisoners for free or very poorly paid labor,” said Willsey.

Registration begins at 1:30 p.m.; the first presentation is at 2 p.m. Masks and proof of vaccination required.

Aubrey L. Morgan