CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – To many, the name John Brown is something you find in American History books. However, on this day dedicated to remembering the sacrifices of those involved in the civil rights movement, one Charleston man is determined to renew John Brown’s place in history and right what he believes was a wrong decision 160 years ago.
One glance at the Heritage Towers Museum and Culture Center’s website, and you can’t help but notice their plea to pardon John Brown.
“Most people in this country don’t know who John Brown is,” exclaimed Charles Minimah, Director of Heritage Towers Museum. “Black people don’t know that he was a white man, other people may think he was black.”
Charles Minimah is the owner and director of the museum and he is leading the crusade to ensure John Brown is not forgotten.
“He was a passionate abolitionist,” said Minimah. “He decided on his own to take matters into his own hands, so he recruited some people including two of his children to go to battle.”
That battle happened in 1859 in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia several years before West Virginia was born out of the Civil War, the only state in the Union to carry that distinction.
“He figured that if he could incite an insurrection with a slave population that would help other people and other states where slavery is very popular to also rise and fight to end slavery,” Minimah stated. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful. He was captured and then put on trial on the grounds of treason. He was convicted and he was very hurriedly hanged.”
Minimah grew up in Nigeria but came to the United States for college at West Virginia State. And, this is where his mission takes a very personal turn. Members of his own family knew first hand what life was like for a slave.
“My own grandmother, that I know about raised me, was sold into slavery,” exclaimed Minimah. “I don’t know how to put it but to say she was fortunate enough. She did not make the journey across the Atlantic to come to the United States.”
But many weren’t so lucky and now more than 160 years after Brown’s execution, Minimah wants to, in his opinion, right a wrong and get a man pardoned for his sacrifice to help end slavery.
“His actions were important because it led to the rest of the country learning about the issue of slavery the evils that are involved in it, and that escalated into a debate between the states,” said Minimah.
Minimah says he and many others believe if Brown had been allowed to live, his pardon would’ve been handed down by President Lincoln. Now, with a new chapter open, he hopes to help rewrite the ending to John Brown’s story.
Here’s where you come in. If you would like to join this campaign, sign the petition or see when the museum will reopen to the public, visit the Heritage Towers Museum and Culture Center’s website.