You can discover Vermont's rich history as it relates to civil rights, diversity, the abolitionist movement and other social issues in the annual VHS program commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. All are welcome.
2015: "Liberty's First Crisis" – Charles Slack
Monday, January 19, 2015
12:00 pm - Vermont History Museum, 109 State Street, Montpelier
7:00 pm - Vermont History Center, 60 Washington Street, Barre
When the U.S. government passed the 1791 Bill of Rights, its uncompromising protection of speech and of the press were unlike anything the world had seen before. But by 1798, the once dazzling young republic of the United States was on the verge of collapse: partisanship gripped the weak federal government, British seizures threatened American goods on the high seas, and war with France seemed imminent.
Suddenly, the First Amendment, which protected harsh commentary of the weak government, no longer seemed as practical. So that July, President John Adams and the Federalists in control of Congress passed an extreme piece of legislation—making criticism of the government and its leaders a crime punishable by heavy fines and jail time. In Liberty's First Crisis, writer Charles Slack tells the story of the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts, the crucial moment when high ideals met real world politics, and the country's future hung in the balance.
Slack's story begins in Vermont with Matthew Lyon, a controversial political figure in the earliest days of Vermont's statehood. To frame this crucial period through a Vermont lens, Slack will draw on research done at the Vermont Historical Society.
This program is free and open to the public, thanks to our sponsor the ACLU of Vermont and co-sponsor Rubin, Kidney, Myer & Vincent, attorneys at law.
MLK Day programs at the Vermont Historical Society
Since 1986 and the first federal Martin Luther Day King Jr. Day, the Vermont Historical Society has been sponsoring programs that highlight civil rights in Vermont. Here are a few posters from past events and a complete list of the programs we have sponsored.
- 2014: The Problem of Slavery
Harvey Amani Whitfield
- 2013: Journey's End: Destination of a Dream
- 2012: Discovering Black Vermont: African American Farmers in Hinesburgh 1790-1890
- 2011: Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program
Gaandi, Somalia; Htar Htar Yu, Burma; Pierre Mujomba, Democratic Republic of Congo
- 2010: No Irish Need Apply: Attitudes toward Irish Immigrants in Nineteenth-Century Vermont
- 2009: Brothers and Sisters in Selma: Vermont Catholic Activism in the Civil Right Movement
Saint Michael's College Students
- 2008:An Evening Conversation with Margaret Lucenti (History of the Vermont Human Rights Commission)
- 2007: Vermont in Mississippi Project
Claire Parkinson, Paul & Sonya Hackel, Tyler Resch
- 2006: Africans in Early Vermont: The Story of Jeffrey Brace
- 2005: Vermont Activists in the Civil Rights Movement: Recollections and Reflections
Paij Wadley-Bailey, Irving Adler, Liz Blum
- 2004: Remembering the Struggle
Chet Briggs, Stephen Green, Penny Patch
- 2003: In Celebration of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gretchen Sullivan Soren
- 2001: In the Shadows of the Statue of Liberty: Hidden Aspects of American History
- 2000: A Quiet Presence: Celebrating Franco-Americans in Vermont
Kim Chase, Michele & Fabio Choiniere
- 1999: William Clarence Matthews, A Baseball Pioneer
- 1998: Film: "A Stranger in the Kingdom."
- 1997: Racism in Vermont: A Microcosm of the United States
- 1996: Melissa Fay Greene, author of "Praying for Sheetrock"
Melissa Fay Greene
- 1995: Highlander, Martin Luther King Jr., and Promises to Keep
- 1994: Let Us March On!
Ernest C. Withers
- 1993: Beyond the Crossroads: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the American Dilemma
- 1992: Breaking Barriers: A Celebration of the U.S. Bill of Rights Bicentennial
Carl T. Rowan
- 1990: Film: "Martin Luther King, Jr.: Doubts and Certainties."
- 1989: Vermont-New York Youth Project
Madeleine Kunin, Philip Hoff, Karen Lane
Films: "The First Step" and "We Are Not Afraid"
- 1988: A Program on Civil Rights in Vermont
Madeleine Kunin, Philip Hoff, Members of the Vt. Advisory Committee of the United States Civil Rights Commission
- 1987: Sanctuary in Vermont
- 1986: Program to Honor Martin Luther King, Jr.
Edward Fitzsimons, Francis K. Brooks, Philip Hoff, Madeleine Kunin