Black Lives Matter events slated in Keene and Lake Placid on Sunday

LAKE PLACID — Two more events in support of the Black Lives Matter movement are planned in the town of Keene and village of Lake Placid Sunday, coinciding with the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The first event, a rally against racism, is slated for Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the intersection of state Routes 73 and 9N between the hamlets of Keene and Keene Valley.

The second, a memorial ceremony for black lives and a reading of Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid.

The Keene rally is being organized by a group of Keene residents and Unite the North Country, a grassroots activist organization. Organizers are asking those who attend to gather at the intersection to bring signs, wear masks and follow social distancing recommendations.

This rally marks the fourth time in just over four weeks that protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been hosted in Keene, a town with a population of roughly 1,100 people, roughly 98% of whom are white, according to past census data. Between the four protests, hundreds of people have gathered there; the first, on May 31, was counted at nearly 150.

The largest local Black Lives Matter protest drew upward of 500 people in Saranac Lake June 2; another took place in Tupper Lake June 8. The town of North Elba has seen two events: a march along Main Street, Lake Placid, and a funeral procession in honor of black lives lost from police brutality.

This Sunday in Lake Placid, John Brown Lives Director Martha Swan said there will be a reading of abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Douglass originally delivered in Rochester on July 5, 1852.

“It was his question to the public, to fellow Americans in 1852 about the meaning, what does this Declaration of Independence mean when it doesn’t pertain to Black people?” Swan said.

Jose Saldana, the director of the Release Aging People in Prison campaign, will deliver the speech in the field amid gravestone-like markers that have been installed there, denoting Black people killed in America.

Swan said the event will close with a drum circle. Participants are encouraged to bring their own drums, socially distance and “pound out thundering noise.”


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