Historical Society of the New York Courts celebrates end of Lemmon Slave Case Exhibit Tour with event at Centre Street

September 1, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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After a monumental 90-week journey across the state, the Lemmon Slave Case Exhibit will conclude its statewide tour with a grand finale event at the New York County Courthouse Rotunda. The Historical Society of the New York Courts, in conjunction with the Supreme Court New York County-Civil Term Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, will host a program titled ‘On the Road: The Legacy of the Lemmon Slave Case’ on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, at 6:00 p.m.

The closing event, which is open to the public and free of charge, will take place in person at the New York County Courthouse Rotunda, located at 60 Centre Street, NYC, and will also be available via livestream. The program will feature a special address by New York State Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson, and remarks from other esteemed officials, including former Chief Judge and Historical Society President Hon. Jonathan Lippman, Hon. Adam Silvera, Hon. Dianne T. Renwick, Hon. Deborah A. Kaplan, and Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson.

“This event marks not only the end of the exhibit’s tour but also a moment for us to reflect on the progress we have made as a society since the Lemmon Slave Case,” said Hon. Jonathan Lippman. “It is crucial that we remember and learn from our past to ensure a more just and equitable future.”

The exhibit, which embarked on its journey in the fall of 2021, visited 45 courthouses across New York State, educating the public about a landmark case that played a pivotal role in the abolition of slavery. “The Lemmon Case: 1852-1860, A Prelude to the Civil War” features video narration by James Earl Jones and provides an in-depth exploration of how the New York courts contributed to the liberation of eight enslaved young women and children who sailed into New York harbor with their enslavers from Virginia. The Court of Appeals’ ruling in 1860 directly contradicted the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision of 1857 and represented the most definitive statement made against slavery by any court in the United States prior to the Civil War.

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“The Lemmon Slave Case Exhibit serves as a poignant reminder of the role that the New York courts played in the fight against slavery,” said New York State Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson. “It is essential that we continue to educate ourselves and future generations about this dark chapter in our nation’s history.”

The Historical Society of the New York Courts, a collaborative group of judges and lawyers, is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and promoting the legal history of New York. The Society’s mission is to empower New York students to be better citizens, build an informed citizenry through public programs and events, capture living history in oral histories, publish the unique legal history stories of the state, and develop innovative ways to showcase this unique history.

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