HARPERS FERRY, W.VA. -Holy ground is how some leaders of the modern American civil rights movement describe Harpers Ferry.
It was here in 1867 that Storer College was founded to educate former slaves, serving as the state's only public institution of higher learning until 1891. And it was here, eight years before the school opened, that abolitionist John Brown lit the spark in a raid on the town that helped ignite the Civil War.
And it was to the Mather Training Center in Harpers Ferry that members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gathered for a press conference Friday to announce the upcoming centennial commemoration of the Niagra Movement, which first convened here in 1906 and served as the forerunner to that organization and to the modern civil rights movement.
The town served as the first meeting of the movement in the United States. The group's first gathering was relocated to Ontario, Canada, when the group was denied accommodations in Buffalo, New York.