Mair speaks of ‘healing history’ at John Brown Day
LAKE PLACID — After listening to the words of other presenters and award recipients at John Brown Day, Sierra Club President Aaron Mair scrapped the multi-page speech he had prepared for the ceremony.
Rather, Mair’s speech centered around a term he had heard just moments prior from Don and Vivian Papson, the founders of North Star Underground Railroad Museum, who, like Mair, also received a John Brown Freedom Award Saturday.
“Healing history,” was the idea that struck him during the Papsons’ speech.
“But I’m going to toss (my speech) out the window, as I often do,” Mair said. “‘Cause I was going to talk a little bit about climate and the need for us to build this national climate movement and come together, but I want to talk about what this award means, this place, this space what it means in my life.
“Don said, ‘Well, to really appreciate history you must have that healing history,'” Mair continued. “And one of the things in my mission with the Sierra Club has been also to expand and make that place an inclusive space and place to talk about that healing history.”
Mair, the Papsons and Vermont-based farm worker human rights activist group Justicia Migrante — originally from Chiapas, Mexico — were honored Saturday with the Spirit of John Brown Freedom Awards on a sunny, yet at times rainy and windy, afternoon at the homestead of the nineteenth century abolitionist.
“We must own that history, because you can not enlist humanity if you do not own your history,” Mair said.