Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park offers two important short film documentaries

The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Harpers Ferry, W Va, has two significant documentary short films for visitors, in the old village. (You have to pay to park on the National Park lot, or simply have a passl a shuttle bus is provided/)   

One is “A Place in Time: Harpers Ferry”, by Paskowski, which is a 20 minute documentary that traces the history of the town on the Potomac River, where Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland come together, after the Civil War. There have been several destructive floods, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, which flooded buildings downtown in the village up to one whole floor sometimes and required enormous work from the townspeople to recover.  The film mentions Storer College (wikipedia) which operated from 1865 to 1955 to educate the freed slaves, but was technically one of the first integrated schools in the United States; ironically, it closed after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954. To see the college was a reason for my 70th birthday visit.  It also mentions the Niagara Movement, a predecessor of the NAACP.

The John Brown Museum shows three videos (total about 25 minutes) in three separate rooms called collectively “John Brown’s Raid: Las of God, Laws of Man”.  The second of these has an interactive map of the raid, resembling a much larger one in Gettysburg. 

Brown had actually proposed a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, and had wondered how wealth and power could rationalize a moral outrage.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting offers a short documentary on Storer College (above). You have to drive to that (from the Bolivar side), or hike to it along the Appalachian Trail.  

Between films, I was outside and chased into a luncheonette by a sudden thunderstorm.  About 50 high school and college kids came in at the same time.  Everyone seemed well educated and well behaved, but the staff was overwhelmed.  

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