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Beriah Green, an abolitionist who graduated from Middlebury College in 1819, will be inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame on October 22.

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Alumnus from Class of 1819 to be Inducted into Abolition Hall of Fame

October 14, 2016

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – A New England theologian and educator who graduated from Middlebury College just 19 years after its founding will be inducted into the Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro, New York, on October 22. Green is one of four historic figures to be honored at a symposium sponsored by the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, followed by the induction ceremony at 7 p.m. at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro.

Milton Sernett, a professor emeritus of history and African-American studies at Syracuse University, nominated Green and will present his story at the pre-induction symposium. Sernett says Green was trained for the ministry and planned to be a foreign missionary, but found his true calling as an abolition educator and biblical scholar, first at Western Reserve College in Hudson, Ohio, then as president of the Oneida Institute in Whitesboro, New York.

“He was a radical abolitionist at a time when the voices for freedom in America were few in number,” wrote Sernett in his nomination of Green. “Green embraced an educational and social vision that went beyond the mere ending of slavery and embodied equal opportunity for all.” 

Sernett says that, despite widespread opposition at the time, Green transformed the Oneida Institute into an abolitionist school, revised its curriculum to reflect the urgency of practical reform, and admitted more African- American students than any other school of the time period.

When the Oneida Institute closed in 1845 due to financial and political strain, Green cut ties with many of his abolitionist colleagues, said Sernett, but the African-Americans who had attended his school continued to think highly of him. Sernett says Alexander Crummell, who became one of the most important black intellectuals of the 19th century, referred to the Rev. Beriah Green as "that Master-thinker and teacher.” Crummell recalled “three years of perfect equality with upwards to 100 white students of different denominations at Oneida Institute.”

First launched in 2005, the Abolition Hall of Fame makes inductions approximately every other year. The next inductions will be held in 2018. Inductees are memorialized at the museum with a banner explaining their role in abolition history. This year, in addition to Green, the museum will induct John Gregg Fee, a founder of Berea College; Angelina Grimke, an abolitionist writer and lecturer from South Carolina; and James W. C. Pennington, who escaped slavery to eventually become a teacher.

The museum encourages the public to nominate abolitionists to the Hall of Fame. More details about this year’s induction activities and the nomination process are available on the museum’s website.

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