Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Underground Railroad- June 23
Today we completed visiting the places we wanted to see which are connected with the Underground Railroad. Our visit was to the regional interpretive center located on the campus of Niagara University. Historic photographs,artifacts,stories and audio stations and art tell the story of "Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara". Our first stop happened on Sunday afternoon, at the Michigan Street Baptist Church(its picture is posted here). It is the oldest property continuously owned, operated and occupied by African Americans in western New York. Not only was this church part of the Underground Railroad, but it played a role in sparking debates/discussions on the evils of slavery and how to overthrow it. Men who spoke here were such men as Frederick Douglass,W.Dubois,and Martin Delaney. They,and many others, inaugurated the Niagara Movement, a forerunner of the NAACP. Wow,my history classes over this time period covered slavery,the Underground Railroad and the Civil War. I also don't remember certain facts; that a state law in 1827 by New York banned slavery. The US government in 1850 overthrew that law,and that allowed bounty hunters to come into New York and retrieve runaway slaves. The Underground Railroad in New York then became very important to the slaves because of its proximity to Canada where slavery was banned. Freed slaves,as Harriet Tubman even had the courage to return to the South. She alone helped 300 to escape. She made the comment: "There is two things I get a right to and they are death and liberty. One or the other I mean to have". I feel that I have learned so much these past few days on this sad piece of our American history.