Every February, Black History Month offers us a chance to commemorate efforts for equality and justice. Looking at our past helps us understand where we are in the present and make choices about our future. In the context of continuing violence against people of color, that effort becomes even more important.
Many African Americans associated with the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse played key roles in promoting freedom, independence, and respect for African Americans. One such man was Samuel Cornish, Presbyterian minister, one of the founders of the American Anti-slavery Society, and editor of the Colored American.
Samuel Cornish, c. 1840
Courtesy Presbyterian Historical Society
“Many would rob us of the endeared name, ‘Americans,’” he wrote, “a distinction more emphatically belonging to us than five-sixths of this nation, one that we will never yield.” People (all white) in Ontario and Wayne Counties regularly supported this paper. Otis Clapp of Palmyra and Asa B. Smith of Macedon (both Quakers from Farmington Meeting) became agents. Other sent regular financial donations, including George Comstock and friends from Farmington. “We heartily thank them,” noted Cornish. “Such kindness not only relieves us from the difficulties into which we have been plunged, but it renewably nerves us to faithfulness in our duty.” (Colored American, June 10,1837, and December 15, 1838.)
For more stories about African Americans affiliated with Farmington, see
Today, the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse Museum continues this historic commitment to equal rights for people of color. Among our many programs, we are part of an amazing network that includes Underground Railroad sites all across New York State and parts of Ontario, Canada. Board member Robin Nowell is our representative to this Underground Railroad Consortium of New York State
Some of our sister sites are presenting programs and exhibits this month that you may wish to participate in:
National Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro, New York, offers a talk online every day this
month about some aspect of Black history ((https://www.youtube.com/@AbolitionHallofFame).
Taken together, these talks are a veritable full-length course in African American history.
Underground Railroad Education Center in Albany, New York, offers several online
programs in February (https://conta.cc/3X7BuO7)
has a not-to-be-missed exhibit on Niagara Falls
and the Underground Railroad, along with a “We Are Here” Speakers series in February.
Among other sites with ongoing exhibits are the :
the Starr Clark Tinshop in Mexico
the Michigan Street Baptist Church in Buffalo
the Onondaga Historical Society in
Syracuse, and the John Jones Museum in Elmira
For a full list of partner sites and supporters, see https://www.urcnys.org/members.
Enjoy these field trips!
(For more on Samuel Cornish, see https://www.history.pcusa.org/blog/2019/02/we-speak-