Expelled Madison University Student Inducted to Hall of Fame
Family and supporters of George Gavin Ritchie convened at Colgate University in Hamilton NY in October 2011 to nominate Ritchie to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) in Peterboro NY. Ritchie had been expelled from Madison (Colgate) University for his 19th Century ardent abolition activities. Nellie K. Edmonston who began researching Ritchie’s story more than a decade ago co-authored the nomination of Ritchie to the Hall of Fame, and presented the Ritchie nomination lecture in 2011.
On Saturday, October 20, 2012, the induction of Ritchie will culminate with a variety of activities honoring him and Abby Kelley Foster and Jermain Wesley Loguen. Sarah Keen, Head of Special Collections & University Archivist at Colgate, has already mounted an exhibit from primary resources that will continue through the NAHOF weekend in October. Keen describes the Speak the Truth Boldly and Plainly: George Gavin Ritchie and Colgate's First Newspaper exhibit:
Colgate University is home to the Colgate Maroon-News, the oldest college weekly newspaper in the United States; however, this was not the first student newspaper to be published at the university. That distinction falls to the Hamilton Student, edited and published by George Gavin Ritchie, Class of 1849. The newspaper ran from 1846 to 1847, but only the first several issues were published while Ritchie was a student at the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, now Colgate University. The content of his newspaper would eventually lead to his expulsion from the university, and his expulsion would fuel further accusations against the university and its faculty that they supported slavery and sought to suppress anti-slavery sentiment. Ritchie’s newspaper began more than ten years after students first agitated for anti-slavery causes at the university, but it continued a debate over the role of religion in politics and the role of students at educational institutions.
At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 20 in Golden Auditorium David George Ritchie, great grandson of George Gavin Ritchie, will present His Family Reflects on George Gavin Ritchie during the Colgate University Upstate Institute Abolition Symposia. Dave Ritchie (Associate Librarian at Memorial Library, SUNY Cortland NY) also arranged the NAHOF Traveling Museum exhibit at SUNY Cortland during Black History Month 2012.
At 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 20 in Golden Auditorium, Poetically Minded will honor Ritchie’s legacy with a dramatic performance. Poetically Minded, believing in the importance and value of words, has prepared excerpts of Martin Luther King's groundbreaking "I Have A Dream" speech for the occasion. Forty-nine years ago, a Baptist preacher spoke these words: I have a dream today! The group will share that dream- and Ritchie’s - to recognize people integral to Equality for all men and women, regardless of race, creed, or color. Poetically Minded (PM) provides a unique opportunity for students at Colgate University to communicate using various forms of poetry. The form and content of the students’ work is up to their discretion, which enables freedom and expression of thought. PM hosts workshops and performances throughout the year, and believes in the fundamental power of spoken word as a means of both activism and artistic expression. PM aims to enrich the Colgate community by making diverse perspectives available and visible. Poetically Minded is sponsored by the ALANA Cultural Center at Colgate University.
Following the PM performance , Ritchie sponsors will unveil the George Gavin Ritchie banner that will hang in the Hall of Fame in Peterboro. A portrait of George Gavin Ritchie created by Mark Ahrens, descendent of Ritchie, will be included in the banner.
The public is encouraged to participate in the variety of activities during the abolition weekend. Friday evening at 7 pm The Hutchinson Family singers of Milford NH will perform a 19th C. Antislavery concert at the First Baptist Church in Hamilton. Kate Clifford Larson PhD will speak on Honoring Tubman in 2013 at the 11:30 am Saturday NAHOF luncheon at Colgate. Saturday at 4:45 pm, Robert Weible, NYS Historian and Chief Curator of the NYS Museum, will provide the keynote address An Irrepressible Conflict: New York State in the Civil War at the annual dinner in the Hall of Presidents at Colgate University.
Programs at the NAHOF event are supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, Abolition Agitation in New York State Sparks the War for Liberty and Justice, and with funds from the New York Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, a state agency, and the Cultural Resources Council, a regional arts council.
Inductee sponsorships and reservations for meals and conference packages are due by October 10. Other venues will take admission at the door. More information on the event and registration: www.nationalabolitionhalloffameandmuseum.org, mercantile.gerritsmith.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 315-684-3262.
George Gavin Ritchie, portrait by Mark Ahrens
George Gavin Ritchie will be honored by the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, Peterboro NY, at ceremonies to be held at Colgate University October 19 – 21.
In October 2011, historians and affiliates gathered to nominate George Gavin Ritchie to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro, and this year will gather October 19 – 21 for programs to honor Ritchie and to unveil his inductee banner for The Hall.
Sarah Keen, Head of Special Collections & University Archivist at Colgate, has mounted an exhibit Speak the Truth Boldly and Plainly: George Gavin Ritchie and Colgate's First Newspaper at the Colgate Library. The exhibit will be available during the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum weekend of ceremonies for George Gavin Ritchie.