Over the course of two days in 1858, Black activists and white allies met in Chatham, Canada, to discuss John Brown’s plans for overthrowing “the infernal institution” of slavery.  This exhibit explores Black convention activists’ relationships with John Brown. It provides a richer and more complex understanding of the influence of Black  activist networks on one of the most well-known radicals of the nineteenth century. 


Curator: Jessica Thelen, PhD student in English, for Dr. P. Gabrielle Foreman’s ENGL/HIST 677 class, Spring, 2019.

Acknowledgements: Dr. P. Gabrielle Foreman’s Spring, 2019 ENGL/HIST 677 class, Dr. P. Gabrielle Foreman (Ned B. Allen Professor of English and Professor of History and Black American Studies at the University of Delaware), Dr. Derrick Spires (Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Dr. Jeffrey Insko (Associate Professor and Coordinator of American Studies at Oakland University), Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson (Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Wellesley College), Michelle Byrnes, Anna Lacy, Lauren Cooper, and “academic twitter,” specifically #twitterstorians.

Further Acknowledgements to the CCP Exhibits team for creating visualizations, editing, and revising this exhibit.

Special thanks to Gale, a Cengage Company and Accessible Archives Inc.® for granting permission for the use of the materials from 19th Century U.S. Newspaper and African American Newspapers: The 19th Century. 

The Colored Conventions Project works with teaching partners and their students to create digital content on the rich history of Black political organizing in the nineteenth-century. Visit our Teaching Partners page to browse the curriculum and find information on becoming a teaching partner.