How should John Brown be remembered?

Photo of man wearing a black hat and brown coat. He faces camera with an anxious expression, his right hand raised as if swearing an oath.An  actor portrays abolitionist John Brown

This summer, the National Museum of American History’s History Alive! Theater program brought visitors the Time Trial of John Brown. A controversial character in American history, John Brown was a radical abolitionist in the mid-19th century. Brown advocated violence to combat slavery and led armed insurrections that would lead to his execution.

This is the second show in the Time Trials series, which invites visitors to serve as jurors in a short hearing for a historical person. In the Time Trial of John Brown, audience members deliberate on John Brown’s contested legacy and decide how he should be remembered in American history.

Check out the video below to get a sense of the process behind the show and why we’re so interested in getting people talking about history.

How do you think John Brown should be remembered?

Photo of long rifle with brown wood

Susan Evans is Daily Programs and Theater Coordinator and Julia Imbriaco is Floor Manager at the National Museum of American History.