Nonprofit human rights organization John Brown Lives! uses local and regional history as a tool to raise contemporary questions around racial injustice, inspired by the work of controversial abolitionist leader John Brown. In this interview, founder Martha Swan discusses how John Brown Lives! uses public history, from a series of community conversations around mass incarceration and drug laws to a traveling exhibit on voting rights in nineteenth century New York State, to encourage people to question the narrative of American history, the meaning of freedom, the role of policy in racial issues, and the connections between history and place.

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