Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

June 18, 2021

Dan Keefe | Brian Nearing
(518) 486-1868 |

New York State Parks Celebrates Juneteenth

John Brown Farm Marks 125 Years of State Ownership

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) joined John Brown Lives! (JBL!) to commemorate Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, and mark the 125th anniversary of New York State's acquisition of the John Brown Farm in North Elba, Essex County in 1896.

"John Brown's inspiring message of social justice and sacrifice remains relevant and vibrant today. We remember it now as we mark this special date in United States history and this notable anniversary at John Brown Farm State Historic Site," said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. "With New York's own history of enslavement, and its diverse population of people of African descent, it is important that we pause to honor the struggle of our ancestors and the continued struggle for human rights and the dignity of all people."

"Every day provides us with the opportunity to appreciate John Brown's historic efforts to abolish slavery and learn how each one of us can advance justice here in the Adirondacks and communities across the state," said Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos. "His legacy lives on in the powerful exhibit on victims of police violence and in the ongoing work to bring equity, access, and inclusivity to all New Yorkers. DEC looks forward to working with our partners at State Parks, the leaders at John Brown Lives! and stakeholders throughout New York to keep this fight for environmental and social justice progress moving forward."

"As the official friends group of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, John Brown Lives! is honored to join with OPRHP Commissioner Erik Kulleseid and others to mark this important date and place," said Jeff Jones, Board President of John Brown Lives! "John Brown and his family moved to North Elba in 1848 for the purpose of helping free Black men maintain their right to vote in New York State. The struggle to protect voting rights for people of color is as important today as it was 180 years ago. We join with others today to celebrate and remember the people who lived in this place and the role they played in the fight for freedom and the abolition of slavery."

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were now free – two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid joined John Brown Lives!, historic site staff and stakeholders at John Brown Farm State Historic Site Friday to pay respects to the noted leader in the struggle for human rights. The event included the reopening of the powerful Memorial Field for Black Lives exhibit. Artist Karen Davidson Seward created the Memorial Field for Black Lives as a space to acknowledge the struggle for equality in America in response to the brutal murders of unarmed Black Americans. In addition, special tours, African drumming, storytelling, dancing and much more will be held throughout the weekend. For more information and for a full schedule of activities, visit:

The Adirondack homestead and final resting place of abolitionist John Brown and two of his sons was saved by 19th century journalist Kate Field. She spent $2,000 of her own money, raised from her lecture circuit, to buy the farm from private owners in 1870. Field recognized the historic value of this place, and the need to open it to the public for posterity. She and like-minded supporters supported, operated and maintained the farm for more than two decades, before donating it to New York State in 1896 shortly before Field's death.

The event supports New York State Parks' "Our Whole History" Initiative, which aims to broaden interpretations at State Parks and Historic Sites.

To learn more about the rich heritage of Black history in New York State, visit:

New York State Parks has also recently opened Shirley Chisholm State Park in Brooklyn, named for the first African American Congresswoman and first woman to run for U.S. President; dedicated Marsha P. Johnson State Park in Brooklyn (the former East River State Park) in honor of the transgender woman of color who advocated for the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities; and installed a statue of 19th century abolitionist and suffragette Sojourner Truth at the Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park in Highland.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which were visited by a record 78 million people in 2020. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.