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Rev. John G. Fee inducted into the National Abolitionist Hall Of Fame

Rev. John G. Fee inducted into the National Abolitionist Hall Of Fame

By Derby Chukwudi
 Senior News Writer

 

On October 22nd, 2016 the National Abolitionist Hall Of Fame (NAHOF) celebrated four new inductees including Rev. John G. Fee, Beriah Green, Angelina Grimké, and James W.C. Pennington. Dr. Alicestyne Turley, Professor and Director Berea College Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, and President Lyle Roelofs, nominated Rev. Fee for induction into the NAHOF. Members of the Black Music Ensemble (BME), some faculty members, President Lyle Roelofs, Vice President Chad Berry and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Linda Strong-Leek traveled, along with some BC students embarked on a road trip to Peterboro, New York for the induction ceremony.

At the induction ceremony, BME members sang a medley of spirituals. The ceremony also featured musical performances by Max Alden Smith, Co-Chair of Peterboro Emancipation Day and commentaries by Hugh Humphreys, a member of the NAHOF Cabinet of Freedom. Some descendants of Rev. Fee attended the ceremony to witness the presentation of the official NAHOF portraits created by Melissa Moshetti.

The historic event made an indelible mark on the lives of the students and faculty who were present at the ceremony and also for the organizers of the event.
According to Dr. Jackie Burnside, a professor of Sociology at Berea College, “I have been enlightened immensely by the historical abolitionist research presented so concisely and shared so generously over the past weekend. I only had known about two of the four Abolitionists nominees, Rev. Fee and Angelina Grimke, so I was delighted to learn about Beriah Green and James W.C. Pennington, an escaped slave who became an abolitionist.”

“Among the many fascinating details about Gerrit Smith, an abolitionist  philanthropist, that I now know was the deep extent to which he was an early supporter of Rev. Fee’s work here at Berea. I was impressed to hear many of the abolitionists’ extended family members express their admiration for their ancestors’ bravery and courage to uphold the dream of reforming the United States into a more just, and slavery-free, society.
Some of those abolitionists could be great role models for our 21st-century citizens so I am looking forward to our studying more about their historical contributions,” Burnside added.

Nana Boateng ‘18, an English major who seconded the nomination of Fee at the ceremony said, “I realized that the trip to upstate New York served as a reflection on what my time at Berea College means to me. I think often we take for granted the opportunity we have to receive a ‘free’ education, especially when we do not feel as if we have the proper representation whether it be in the classroom or in the student population.” Boateng continued, “Not too long ago, Black people didn’t even have the right to be educated; it was literally illegal, and as a woman that was just not a reality. Jessie Zander was the first African-American woman to graduate from Berea in 1954 after the Day Law was repealed. It just amazes me to think that John G. Fee realized the importance of education for all people and strived to make that a reality. This is all to say that his mission is in the works every day, and we are responsible for making sure that education continues to remain available for all people.”

Anthony Casey ‘20, said, “Primarily my interest was John G. Fee and his efforts to abolish partiality and lawful justification of prejudice and racism. As the founder of my college I could draw an immediate connection, but over the weekend I drew closer to him due to my like-mindedness and our paralleled moral compasses. I believe that no man or woman, color or ethnicity should hold power or opportunity over another based off any characteristic, even socioeconomic status.” Casey continued, “When Dr. Turley spoke of his undaunted efforts to abolish not only slavery but racism and many other laws that supported prejudice, I was moved to the point of tears. From his efforts, I can go to school with people. Not with women.
Not with black. Not with the poor. But with people. And that is how all eyes and hearts should see. I did develop an interest of a second abolitionist during the event besides John G. Fee and that was Angelina Grimkè.”

The speaker who told her story was passionate and knowledgeable about the woman and spoke many facts that earned her right into the Hall of Fame. She also had limited time to speak on many of the other reasons Grimkè stood out during her life. Beyond Grimkè, I also found the music incorporation into the presentations were very timely and appropriate for the event at hand. My experience of the event overall was eye opening. Vast knowledge, supportive passions and connective explorations are all I can say I took away from this trip” Casey added.

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