The total number of runaways who used the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom is not known, but some estimates exceed 100,000 freed slaves during the antebellum period. Those involved in the Underground Railroad used code words to maintain anonymity.
How many conductors were in the Underground Railroad?
These eight abolitionists helped enslaved people escape to freedom.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
How many escaped using the Underground Railroad?
More than 30,000 people were said to have escaped there via the network during its 20-year peak period, although U.S. Census figures account for only 6,000.
Who financed the Underground Railroad?
5: Buying Freedom Meanwhile, so-called “stockholders” raised money for the Underground Railroad, funding anti-slavery societies that provided ex-slaves with food, clothing, money, lodging and job-placement services. At times, abolitionists would simply buy an enslaved person’s freedom, as they did with Sojourner Truth.
Were there tunnels in the Underground Railroad?
Contrary to popular belief, the Underground Railroad was not a series of underground tunnels. While some people did have secret rooms in their houses or carriages, the vast majority of the Underground Railroad involved people secretly helping people running away from slavery however they could.
How many slaves were saved by the Underground Railroad?
According to some estimates, between 1810 and 1850, the Underground Railroad helped to guide one hundred thousand enslaved people to freedom.
What states was the Underground Railroad in?
These were called “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots.” The people operating them were called “stationmasters.” There were many well-used routes stretching west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa. Others headed north through Pennsylvania and into New England or through Detroit on their way to Canada.
How many slaves did Harriet Tubman save?
Fact: According to Tubman’s own words, and extensive documentation on her rescue missions, we know that she rescued about 70 people —family and friends—during approximately 13 trips to Maryland.
What state ended slavery first?
In 1780, Pennsylvania became the first state to abolish slavery when it adopted a statute that provided for the freedom of every slave born after its enactment (once that individual reached the age of majority). Massachusetts was the first to abolish slavery outright, doing so by judicial decree in 1783.
How many slaves died trying to escape?
At least 2 million Africans –10 to 15 percent–died during the infamous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic. Another 15 to 30 percent died during the march to or confinement along the coast. Altogether, for every 100 slaves who reached the New World, another 40 had died in Africa or during the Middle Passage.
How did Harriet Tubman find out about the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad and Siblings Tubman first encountered the Underground Railroad when she used it to escape slavery herself in 1849. Following a bout of illness and the death of her owner, Tubman decided to escape slavery in Maryland for Philadelphia.
Why did Harriet Tubman wear a bandana?
As was the custom on all plantations, when she turned eleven, she started wearing a bright cotton bandana around her head indicating she was no longer a child. She was also no longer known by her “basket name”, Araminta. Now she would be called Harriet, after her mother.
Why was the Underground Railroad illegal?
After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada as its final destination. The Act made it illegal for a person to help a run away, and citizens were obliged under the law to help slave catchers arrest fugitive slaves.
The Underground Railroad
At the time of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in their attempts to flee to freedom in the northern states. Subjects History of the United States, Social StudiesImage
Home of Levi Coffin
Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist. This was a station on the Underground Railroad, a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in escaping to the North during the Civil War. Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography. “> During the age of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, locations, and individuals that assisted enslaved persons in the American South in escaping to the North, according to the Underground Railroad Museum.
Although it was not a real railroad, it fulfilled the same function as one: it carried passengers across large distances.
The people who worked for the Underground Railroad were driven by a passion for justice and a desire to see slavery abolished—a drive that was so strong that they risked their lives and jeopardized their own freedom in order to assist enslaved people in escaping from bondage and staying safe while traveling the Underground Railroad.
- As the network expanded, the railroad metaphor became more prevalent.
- In recent years, academic research has revealed that the vast majority of persons who engaged in the Underground Railroad did it on their own, rather than as part of a larger organization.
- According to historical tales of the railroad, conductors frequently pretended to be enslaved persons in order to smuggle runaways out of plantation prisons and train stations.
- Often, the conductors and passengers traveled 16–19 kilometers (10–20 miles) between each safehouse stop, which was a long distance in this day and age.
- Patrols on the lookout for enslaved persons were usually on their tails, chasing them down.
- Historians who study the railroad, on the other hand, find it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction.
- Eric Foner is one of the historians that belongs to this group.
- Despite this, the Underground Railroad was at the center of the abolitionist struggle during the nineteenth century.
- Levi Coffin’s residence in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lived as an American Quaker and abolitionist.
- Cincinnati Museum Center provided the photography.
- Person who is owned by another person or group of people is referred to as an enslaved person.
Slavery is a noun that refers to the act of owning another human being or being owned by another human being (also known as servitude). Abolitionists utilized this nounsystem between 1800 and 1865 to aid enslaved African Americans in their attempts to flee to free states.
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The Underground Railroad
|The Underground Railroad, a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape to the North and to Canada, was not run by any single organization or person. Rather, it consisted of many individuals – many whites but predominently black – who knew only of the local efforts to aid fugitives and not of the overall operation. Still, it effectively moved hundreds of slaves northward each year – according to one estimate,the South lost 100,000 slaves between 1810 and 1850. An organized system to assist runaway slaves seems to have begun towards the end of the 18th century. In 1786 George Washington complained about how one of his runaway slaves was helped by a “society of Quakers, formed for such purposes.” The system grew, and around 1831 it was dubbed “The Underground Railroad,” after the then emerging steam railroads. The system even used terms used in railroading: the homes and businesses where fugitives would rest and eat were called “stations” and “depots” and were run by “stationmasters,” those who contributed money or goods were “stockholders,” and the “conductor” was responsible for moving fugitives from one station to the next.For the slave, running away to the North was anything but easy. The first step was to escape from the slaveholder. For many slaves, this meant relying on his or her own resources. Sometimes a “conductor,” posing as a slave, would enter a plantation and then guide the runaways northward. The fugitives would move at night. They would generally travel between 10 and 20 miles to the next station, where they would rest and eat, hiding in barns and other out-of-the-way places. While they waited, a message would be sent to the next station to alert its stationmaster.The fugitives would also travel by train and boat – conveyances that sometimes had to be paid for. Money was also needed to improve the appearance of the runaways – a black man, woman, or child in tattered clothes would invariably attract suspicious eyes. This money was donated by individuals and also raised by various groups, including vigilance committees.Vigilance committees sprang up in the larger towns and cities of the North, most prominently in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. In addition to soliciting money, the organizations provided food, lodging and money, and helped the fugitives settle into a community by helping them find jobs and providing letters of recommendation.The Underground Railroad had many notable participants, including John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues, Levi Coffin, a Quaker who assisted more than 3,000 slaves, and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.|
See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to freedom. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this historical period. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that publishes encyclopedias. View all of the videos related to this topic. When escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada, this was referred to as the Underground Railroad in the United States.
Even though it was neither underground nor a railroad, it was given this name because its actions had to be carried out in secret, either via the use of darkness or disguise, and because railroad words were employed in relation to the system’s operation.
In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down or capture them.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, obtained firsthand experience of escaped slaves via her association with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she lived for a time during the Civil War.
The existence of the Underground Railroad, despite the fact that it was only a small minority of Northerners who took part in it, did much to arouse Northern sympathy for the plight of slaves during the antebellum period, while also convincing many Southerners that the North as a whole would never peacefully allow the institution of slavery to remain unchallenged.
When was the first time a sitting president of the United States appeared on television? Return to the past for the really American responses. Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.
The Secret History of the Underground Railroad
See how abolitionists in the United States, like as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Thomas Garrett, assisted enslaved people in their attempts to escape to independence. Learn about the abolitionist movement in the United States, as well as the importance of the Underground Railroad in this campaign. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. is a publishing company that specializes in encyclopedias. This page contains a number of videos. It is a term used to refer to the Underground Railroad, which was a system that existed in the Northern states prior to the Civil War by which escaped slaves from the South were secretly assisted by sympathetic Northerners, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Acts, to reach safe havens in the North or Canada.
It was known as lines, halting sites were known as stations, people who assisted along the way were called conductors, and their charges known as packages or freight were known as packages or freight were known as freight In all directions, the network of channels stretched over 14 northern states and into “the promised land” of Canada, where fugitive-slave hunters were unable to track them down and capture them.
Members of the free black community (including former slaves such as Harriet Tubman), Northern abolitionists, benefactors, and church leaders such as Quaker Thomas Garrett were among those who most actively enabled slaves to escape by use of the “railroad.” During her time working with the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio, Harriet Beecher Stowe, best known for her novelUncle Tom’s Cabin, got firsthand experience of escaped slaves.
- From 40,000 to 100,000 black individuals, according to various estimates, were released during the American Civil War.
- Test your knowledge of the Britannica.
- The first time a president of the United States appeared on television was in the year 1960.
- In the most recent revision and update, Amy Tikkanen provided further information.
Underground Railroad was a network of people, both black and white, who helped escaped enslaved persons from the southern United States by providing them with refuge and assistance. It came forth as a result of the convergence of numerous separate covert initiatives.
Although the exact dates of its inception are unknown, it was active from the late 18th century until the Civil War, after which its attempts to weaken the Confederacy were carried out in a less-secretive manner until the Civil War ended.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) is often regarded as the first organized group to actively assist escaped enslaved persons. In 1786, George Washington expressed dissatisfaction with Quakers for attempting to “liberate” one of his enslaved servants. Abolitionist and Quaker Isaac T. Hopper established a network in Philadelphia in the early 1800s to assist enslaved persons who were on the run from slavery. Abolitionist organisations founded by Quakers in North Carolina lay the basis for escape routes and safe havens for fugitive slaves during the same time period.
What Was the Underground Railroad?
The Underground Railroad was first mentioned in 1831, when an enslaved man named Tice Davids managed to escape from Kentucky into Ohio and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his liberation. When a fugitive slave called Jim was apprehended in 1839 in Washington, the press said that the guy confessed his plan to travel north along a “underground railroad to Boston” while under torture. The Vigilance Committees, which were established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard escaped enslaved persons from bounty hunters, rapidly expanded their duties to include guiding enslaved individuals on the run.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman and her fellow fugitives used the following strategies to escape through the Underground Railroad:
How the Underground Railroad Worked
Enslaved man Tice Davids fled from Kentucky into Ohio in 1831, and his master blamed a “underground railroad” for assisting Davids in his release. This was the first time the Underground Railroad was mentioned in print. In 1839, a Washington newspaper stated that an escaped enslaved man called Jim had divulged, after being tortured, his intention to go north through a “underground railroad to Boston” in order to avoid capture. After being established in New York in 1835 and Philadelphia in 1838 to safeguard fugitive enslaved individuals from bounty hunters, Vigilance Committees quickly expanded its duties to include guiding runaway slaves.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ THESE STATEMENTS.
Fugitive Slave Acts
The Fugitive Slave Acts were a major cause for many fugitive slaves to flee to Canada. This legislation, which was passed in 1793, authorized local governments to catch and extradite fugitive enslaved individuals from inside the borders of free states back to their places of origin, as well as to penalize anybody who assisted the fleeing enslaved people. Personal Liberty Laws were introduced in certain northern states to fight this, but they were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1842. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was intended to reinforce the preceding legislation, which was perceived by southern states to be insufficiently enforced at the time of passage.
The northern states were still considered a danger zone for fugitives who had managed to flee.
Some Underground Railroad operators chose to station themselves in Canada and sought to assist fugitives who were arriving to settle in the country.
Harriet Tubman was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad during its heyday. When she and two of her brothers fled from a farm in Maryland in 1849, she was given the name Harriet (her married name was Tubman). She was born Araminta Ross, and she was raised as Harriet Tubman. They returned a couple of weeks later, but Tubman fled on her own again shortly after, this time making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other individuals.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other fugitive slaves to the Maryland state capital.
She was the most well-known conductor of the Underground Railroad, and her name is Harriet Tubman. In 1849, she and two of her brothers managed to escape from a farm in Maryland, where they were born into slavery under the name Araminta Ross. Harriet Tubman was her married name at the time. While they did return a few of weeks later, Tubman set out on her own shortly after, making her way to the state of Pennsylvania. In following years, Tubman returned to the plantation on a number of occasions to rescue family members and other people.
Tubman was distraught until she had a vision of God, which led her to join the Underground Railroad and begin escorting other runaway slaves to the Maryland state capital of Fredericksburg.
Who Ran the Underground Railroad?
The vast majority of Underground Railroad operators were regular individuals, including farmers and business owners, as well as preachers and religious leaders. Some affluent individuals were active, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who stood for president on two separate occasions. Smith acquired a full family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841 and freed them from their captivity. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, is credited with being one of the first recorded individuals to assist escaped enslaved persons.
Coffin stated that he had discovered their hiding spots and had sought them out in order to assist them in moving forward.
Coffin eventually relocated to Indiana and then Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitive enslaved individuals no matter where he was.
Ordinary individuals, farmers and business owners, as well as pastors, were the majority of those who operated the Underground Railroad. Several millionaires, including Gerrit Smith, a billionaire who campaigned for president twice, were involved. For the first time in his life, Smith purchased and freed a whole family of enslaved people from Kentucky in 1841. Levi Coffin, a Quaker from North Carolina, was one of the earliest recorded individuals to assist fleeing enslaved persons. Beginning in 1813, when he was 15 years old, he began his career.
They eventually began to make their way closer to him and eventually reached him. In subsequent years, Coffin relocated to Indiana and eventually Ohio, where he continued to assist fugitives from slavery no matter where he went.
End of the Line
Operation of the Underground Railroad came to an end in 1863, during the American Civil War. In actuality, its work was shifted aboveground as part of the Union’s overall campaign against the Confederate States of America. Once again, Harriet Tubman made a crucial contribution by organizing intelligence operations and serving as a commanding officer in Union Army efforts to rescue the liberated enslaved people who had been freed. MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Harriet Tubman led a daring Civil War raid after the Underground Railroad was shut down.
Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad is a book about the Underground Railroad. Fergus Bordewich is a Scottish actor. A Biography of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom Catherine Clinton is the first lady of the United States. Who Exactly Was in Charge of the Underground Railroad? ‘Henry Louis Gates’ is a pseudonym for Henry Louis Gates. The Underground Railroad’s History in New York is a little known fact. The Smithsonian Institution’s magazine. The Underground Railroad’s Dangerous Allure is well documented.
Elijah Anderson has returned home Madison, Thousands of enslaved Africans attempted to emancipate themselves during the nineteenth century by a variety of tactics. The Underground Railroad was a system that allowed some to flee without the assistance of others, while others relied on individuals who lived along the route who had no connection to others for assistance, and still others took advantage of a system that has come to be known as the Underground Railroad. The meaning of the phrase is ambiguous, and no one knows where it came from.
- The fugitive was successful in locating a boat on the Ohio River’s banks, while the plantation owner was unsuccessful in locating a skiff.
- He believed the fugitive must have fled by an underground passageway, which he expressed his displeasure by exclaiming.
- Occasionally, the routes went north to Canada, while other times they headed south to Mexico and Florida.
- Free Blacks, Whites, Native Americans, and former slaves played the role of conductors, assisting fleeing slaves on their journey to escape from slavery.
- The UGRR is not a railroad, a road, or a distinct route in the traditional sense.
In general, the UGRR did not have any tunnels, hidden rooms, or secret passages to speak of. They were white folks who welcomed African-Americans into their homes and offered any aid they could. At first, we believed three major pathways had been established.
- It goes from Posey to Vanderburgh, then Gibson and Pike, and then Vincennes and Terre Haute before arriving at South Bend. Then north into Michigan
- Corydon to Jackson/Jennings to Salem to Bloomington to Mooresville to Marion County to Crawfordsville to Porter then north into Michigan
- Madison to Fountain City to Fort Wayne to Dekalb then north into Michigan
After doing thorough study, we have discovered that there was no one path. A labyrinth of alternative pathways, hiding spots, assistance and treachery entangled the players. What is the educational value of studying the UGRR? While there are hundreds of Hoosiers who have assisted fugitives in their quest for freedom, there are also some Hoosiers who have assisted in the arrest of these fugitives. We are attempting to track down all of the individuals who had an effect on the lives of the fugitives through the State of Indiana’s Underground Railroad Initiative.
Historic reports are being written when the research is finished, seminars are being held, and educational materials are being developed so that Hoosiers may learn more about this element of our history.
Identifying locations, individuals, and events related with Underground Railroad involvement in Indiana is the purpose of this initiative, which was established in 2008.
Education and outreach to the general public The Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety (DHPA) sponsors a number of educational, training, and outreach activities for the general public as part of the Underground Railroad Initiative.
- The following is a list of Underground Railroad Educational Resources:
Facilitation of Scientific Investigations This agency collaborates with organizations that contain Underground Railroad collections and refers scholars to these repositories. DHPA Aside from that, the DHPA has launched an inventory of the research that is available to the general public and maintains a bibliography of primary and secondary materials, which includes publications like as books, newspapers, and websites, that are related to the Underground Railroad. In addition, we now have a PDF version of the Dr.
The Indiana State Library is home to Dr.
Resources for the Underground Railroad
- The Underground Railroad Sites in Indiana
- The History of the Underground Railroad in Indiana
- The Indiana Freedom Trails
- And the Network to Freedom are some of the topics covered.
Making a TV show about slavery is enough to undo you. Ask Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins clearly recalls the moment he learned about the Underground Railroad for the very first time. The first time he heard such words, he was probably 5 or 6, and he recalls how it was “unimaginable” to him: “IsawBlack people riding trains that were underground.” He worked as a longshoreman and would always arrive at the port with his hard hat and tool belt on his back. Someone like him, I believed, was responsible for the construction of the Underground Railroad. “It was a great sensation since it was only about Black people and the concept of constructing things.” It would later become clear to the child that the name “Underground Railroad” was actually a slang word for a network of safe homes and passageways that slaves used to flee their tyrannical owners in the antebellum South.
This year’s highly anticipated “The Underground Railroad,” an Amazon limited series based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novel about a runway slave named Cora (Thuso Mbedu) and her desperate, often hellish quest for freedom as she flees the shackles of bondage, will bring Jenkins’ childhood vision of the railroad full circle.
- The author serves as an executive producer on the adaptation, which will debut on the streaming service on Friday, April 12.
- He was nominated for an Academy Award for best director for his work on the 2016 homosexual coming-of-age film, which went on to win the award for best picture.
- However, while Jenkins is clearly pleased with his accomplishment, he is also aware that “The Underground Railroad” represents the greatest risk of his professional life.
- Specifically, the filmmaker predicts that Black viewers, in particular, would have a more intense emotional response to the distressing content than other audiences.
- “That’s not what it’s about,” he remarked in an interview done through video conference from his home, during which he was both animated and softly reflective.
- For the past 41 and a half years, this has been my life’s work.
- I’m not sure how to digest what I’ve just heard.
This is not the case in this instance.
‘That duty, that weight, it’s still on my shoulders.’ (Image courtesy of Atsushi Nishijima/Amazon Prime Video) Jenkins considers the project to be his destiny on the one hand.
Then I realized that I had to do it.” In addition, he was able to witness the practical manifestation of his early idea with the construction of an underground set at the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah, Georgia.
“It needs to be authentic.
In order for the players to walk into the tunnel and touch the rails, they must be able to get down on their knees and touch the walls.
It would have been a mind-boggling experience.
The series is the latest in a long line of notable ventures that have combined America’s horrendous history of racial relations with elements of popular culture to great effect.
Black viewers have condemned the films “Them” and “Two Distant Strangers” in particular, labeling the painful imagery as “Black trauma porn” (trauma for black people).
There is a good chance that the premiere episode of “The Underground Railroad” will add additional gasoline to the fire.
Jenkins claims that black viewers had already expressed their opinions many weeks before the broadcast.
“Do we require any further photographs of this?” the query posed.
(Image courtesy of Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios) From the beginning, he was warned that he was about to walk into a minefield.
“However, I do not believe that the country will ever be prepared to look at photos from this period.” Despite this, all you’ve heard for the past four years has been the slogan ‘Make America Great Again.’ At least some of what America has done, particularly when it comes to individuals who look like me, has to be a result of wilful ignorance or erasure on their side.
To discover Jenkins’ genuine goal, audiences are encouraged to look past the scenes of brutality and recognize his underlying motivation: to shine a light on the victory of slaves rather than on their traumatic experiences.
“It’s the only reason someone like me is here today, and nothing else.” “If I am able to take these photographs and put them back into their original context, it makes the portrayal of the images worthwhile.” He mentioned the prominent role played by children in Whitehead’s work, and he stated that he intended to replicate that presence in the series.
- However, there is a great deal that has to do with parenting as well.
- As a result, youngsters are constantly present in our presentation.
- The NAACP and the journal were founded by W.E.B.
- “I came to the realization that this was one of the most amazing acts of collective parenting the world has ever witnessed.” They were there to safeguard the youngsters.
- We hear that Black families have always been divided and that Black dads have always been gone from their children’s lives, and this is true.
- (Image courtesy of Amazon Studios’ Atsushi Nishijima) Kim Whyte, a mental health counselor located in Georgia, was brought on board to help him create a safe and open setting for dealing with the challenging and often visceral subject matter.
According to Jenkins, Whyte’s involvement was not intentional: “I didn’t want these pictures to unravel us, even while we were unpacking them.” Whyte expressed gratitude to Jenkins for the confidence he placed in her, saying, “I couldn’t find a model before me in terms of being a mental health counselor on a set.” I was able to engage with everyone on the set because to Barry’s generosity.
- His permission to connect with them after takes and in between takes was very appreciated.” ‘It was eye-opening,’ she described her experience.
- However, they all had lives of their own.
- The material, on the other hand, was causing people to respond.
- “It’s a stain on humanity that we all share,” Whyte explained.
- ‘This character does not sit well with me.’ It was necessary for them to unravel the emotions that they were required to express at times.
- As we went through it, I told her, ‘Yes, you have every right to be unhappy about this,’ she said.
- ‘And you are a human being.’ They needed to realize that it wasn’t their own rage.
Underground Railroad in Iowa
It was the first time he heard about the Underground Railroad that Barry Jenkins recalls with vivid detail. The first time he heard such words, he was approximately 5 or 6, and he recalls how it was “unimaginable” to him: “I saw Black people riding trains that were underground.” He worked as a longshoreman and would always arrive at the port with his hard helmet and tool belt on his back.” The Underground Railroad was built by someone like him, in my mind. This was such a great sensation since it was just about Black people and the concept of constructing things.
- In adulthood, however, the image remained with him as a result of his works, which included the Academy Award-winning “Moonlight” and the romantic drama “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which elevated him to the top of Hollywood’s filmography.
- A boxcar propelled by a steam engine transports slaves to free states through underground tunnels, as imagined by Whitehead, who reimagines the Underground Railroad.
- Jenkins, who won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for “Moonlight” alongside Tarell Alvin McCraney, will have yet another high-profile project to his credit with this drama.
- For months, there has been a lot of excitement about the new initiative.
- There was a sequence of warnings from his buddies that he shouldn’t do.
- Even early good reviews haven’t given him much hope.
- “I’m very aware that these photographs of my ancestors will be seen by others.
Still carrying the burden of obligation and weight.
For a long time, I believed that making the art would exorcise those demons or lift that burden.
Simply put, it’s excessive.” ‘I’m certain that people will come upon these photographs of my relatives,’ says Barry Jenkins, star of ‘The Underground Railroad.’ “That obligation, that weight, it’s still there with me today.” As seen on Amazon Prime Video (courtesy of Atsushi Nishijima).
I was able to recognize it immediately.
In addition, he was able to witness the actual manifestation of his early idea with the construction of an underground set at the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah, Georgia.
‘It needs to be authentic.’ My goal is to have the audience witness something similar to what I witnessed as a kid.
If my forefathers had walked into one of these tunnels and saw the track and the light arriving, as well as a Black conductor calling out, “All aboard!” you can image how they would have felt.
This is just what I was looking for.” However, whereas his poetic and lyrical style in dealing with racial themes in “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” was embraced by critics and audiences, “The Underground Railroad” explores more explosive terrain, diving headfirst into the fiery issue of race and the resulting tensions that have sparked volatile protests across the country and spirited debate within popular culture.
In a long line of notable efforts that have combined America’s horrendous history of racial relations with genre elements, the series is the most recent entry.
Black viewers have condemned the films “Them” and “Two Distant Strangers” in particular, calling the disturbing scenes “Black trauma porn.” Their argument is that the scenarios are particularly distressing since they have resemblances to real-life police violence against Black people and the worrying revival of white supremacist organizations.
- In fact, Jenkins claims that black viewers had already expressed their opinions several weeks prior to the launch.
- ‘The Underground Railroad’ director Barry Jenkins, at right, on the set.
- I asked my friends for their opinions, and most of them stated that they did not believe I should perform the program.
- I don’t believe the country will ever be able to look at photographs from this period,” says the author.
- When I hear it, I have to believe that there is some kind of deliberate ignorance or erasure of all of the horrors that America has done, particularly when it comes to people who look like me.
- To discover Jenkins’ underlying goal, audiences are encouraged to look past the scenes of brutality and recognize his true motivation: to shine a light on the victory of slaves rather than on their traumatic experience.
At the end, it’s the only reason why someone like myself is in this place today.” The fact that I am able to take these images and put them back into their original context justifies their depiction.” Whitehead’s work contains a significant amount of dialogue with youngsters, and the author stated that he wished to replicate that presence in his series.
- A great deal, though, has to do with parental responsibilities.
- Thus, youngsters are constantly present in our presentation.
- Dubois 40 years later.” He took a breath to emphasize his point.
- “I came to the realization that this was one of the most amazing acts of collective parenting the world has ever witnessed.
- In other words, my ancestors’ reinterpretation of their lives lies at the heart of the book.
It’s impossible to be more wrong than this.” The actors and crew were given a specific direction by Jenkins throughout the filming of the series, which he described as follows: “I told them, “We’re not going to levitate, but we’ll find a way to manufacture magic, just as our predecessors did.” In Amazon’s “The Underground Railroad,” Joel Edgerton portrays the vicious slave catcher Ridgeway.
- Image courtesy of Amazon Studios and Atsushi Nishijima.
- Whyte has worked with the military, schools, and community groups, providing counseling and assistance.
- “I couldn’t find a model before me in terms of being a mental health counselor on a set,” Whyte added, expressing gratitude for Jenkins’ confidence in her.
- No obstacles were put in my way, and he urged everyone to make use of my skills and abilities.
- Everyone was going through their emotions as they dealt with this very difficult subject matter.
- Their lives were not in jeopardy, though.
- The material, on the other hand, was having an effect on them.
Occasionally, some of the performers who were portraying bigots had difficulties dealing with the material they were portraying.
It was common for someone to approach me and tell me, “I have to depict this.” What should I say to my mother to make her understand what I’m saying?
The feeling that they should not feel a particular way belonging to the Black crew and Black performers, and that they should not be unhappy was expressed by a handful of people.
Although it was a crime against Black people, it was also a crime against all humanity.
This meant they had to accept that it wasn’t their own rage at the time.
“I have a strong suspicion that my obituary will be published six months early than it ought to.” Nevertheless, it was well worth the effort.”
- He clearly recalls the moment he learned about the Underground Railroad for the first time. The first time he heard such words, he was approximately 5 or 6, and he recalls how it was “unimaginable” to him: “I saw Black people riding trains that were underground.” He worked as a longshoreman and would always arrive at the port with his hard hat and tool belt in tow. Someone like him, I assumed, would be responsible for constructing the Underground Railroad. This was such a great sensation since it was just about Black people and the concept of constructing things.” As he grew older, he would discover that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was actually an exaggerated designation for a network of safe homes and passageways used by slaves to flee their cruel owners in the antebellum South. In maturity, however, the image stuck with him as a result of his films, which included the Academy Award-winning “Moonlight” and the romantic drama “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which elevated him to the top of Hollywood’s most recognized directors. In “The Underground Railroad,” Amazon’s limited series based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novel about a runway slave named Cora (Thuso Mbedu) and her desperate, often hellish quest for freedom as she flees the shackles of bondage, Jenkins brings his childhood vision of the railroad full circle. A boxcar driven by a steam engine transports slaves to free states through underground tunnels, as imagined by Whitehead. The author serves as an executive producer on the adaptation, which will debut on the streaming service on Friday. The drama is yet another high-profile achievement for Jenkins, who won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for “Moonlight” alongside Tarell Alvin McCraney. He was nominated for an Academy Award for best director for his work on the 2016 homosexual coming-of-age film, which went on to win the Academy Award for best picture. For months, people have been talking about the project. However, while Jenkins is clearly pleased with his accomplishment, he also recognizes that “The Underground Railroad” represents the greatest danger of his professional life. It’s a series that his pals have advised him against making. Specifically, the filmmaker predicts that Black viewers, in particular, would have a more intense emotional response to the distressing content. Early good reviews haven’t given him much consolation. “That’s not what it’s about,” he remarked in an interview done through video conference from his home, in which he was both animated and softly reflective. “I’m very aware that people will come upon these photographs of my forebears. This has been my life’s work for the past 41 and a half years. That burden, that obligation, is still with me. I’m not sure how to digest what I’ve just read. I used to believe that making the art exorcised those demons or lifted the weight off my shoulders. This is not the case with this particular one. It’s just too much to bear.” “I’m certain that people will come to these images of my relatives,” said Barry Jenkins, star of “The Underground Railroad.” “That obligation, that weight, it’s still with me.” (Photo courtesy of Atsushi Nishijima/Amazon Prime Video) Jenkins sees the project as his destiny on the one hand, and as a means of achieving it on the other. “That gut sense that I felt as a youngster hit me again when I read the book,” he said of Whitehead’s work, which included a train depiction. I recognized it right away. Then I realized that I had to do it.'” And he was able to witness the practical manifestation of his early concept with the construction of a subterranean set at the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah, Georgia. “I didn’t want computer-generated imagery for the trains and tunnels,” Jenkins explained. “It needs to be authentic.” I want the audience to experience what I experienced as a youngster. It is critical that the performers be able to enter into a tunnel and get down on their knees to touch the railings. If my forefathers had walked into one of these tunnels and seen the track and the light arriving, along with a Black conductor saying, “All aboard!” you can image how they would have felt. It would have been completely mind-blowing. That was something I wanted to do.” Nevertheless, while critics and audiences praised his poetic and poetical approach to racial themes in “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “The Underground Railroad” explores more explosive territory, diving headfirst into the racial issue and ensuing tensions that have sparked violent protests across the country and spirited discourse within popular culture. The series is the latest in a long line of notable efforts that have combined America’s horrendous history of racial relations with elements of popular culture. The HBO series “Watchmen” and “Lovecraft Country,” Hulu’s “Antebellum,” Amazon’s anthology series “Them,” and the recent live-action short Oscar winner “Two Distant Strangers” all have explicit violent sequences of Black people being slaughtered, tortured, and brutalized by whites. Black viewers have condemned the films “Them” and “Two Distant Strangers” in particular, labeling the disturbing scenes as “Black trauma porn.” They believe that the scenarios are particularly distressing because they have resonances with real-life police violence against Black people and the worrying revival of white supremacist organisations. There is a good chance that the first episode of “The Underground Railroad” will add additional gasoline to the fire. The episode depicts a scenario in which a fugitive slave who has been apprehended is violently beaten in front of scared blacks and amused whites before being lit on fire. Jenkins claims that black viewers had already expressed their opinions weeks before the broadcast. The trailer for the program was out, and a slew of people came after me, man alive. “The issue was, ‘Do we require any further photos of this?'” On the set of “The Underground Railroad,” Barry Jenkins, on the right. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Kaplan/Amazon Studios) He was warned from the beginning that he was entering a minefield. “When I asked my pals what they thought, they responded, ‘I don’t believe you should do this program.’ This is something I don’t believe the world is prepared for,” Jenkins stated. “However, I do not believe that the country will ever be ready to look at photos from this period.” ” Despite this, all you’ve heard for the past four years is the slogan ‘Make America Great Again.’ At least some of the things America has done, particularly when it comes to individuals who look like me, must have been done with a deliberate lack of knowledge or erasure. “If not now, when?” says the author. Jenkins is urging audiences to look past the representations of brutality in order to discover his underlying goal: to shine a light on the victory of slaves rather than on their adversity. According to him, he has a responsibility to “present the truth of what they went through,” but he also wants to focus attention on the sacrifices the enslaved made as part of “the choice to live.” “We’ve been putting off the obligation of remembering these individuals for far too long, and it’s past time for those of us who work in the visual arts to respect their sacrifice by continuing to live rather than dying,” he stated. At the end, it’s the only reason why someone like myself is in this place now. If I am able to take these photographs and put them back into their original context, it makes the portrayal of the images valuable.” He highlighted the prominent role played by youngsters in Whitehead’s novel and stated that he want to replicate that presence in the series. In his words, “Here’s one fantastic thing that Colson done.” “There are authors who are troubled by the moral and ethical quandary of re-creating imagery from that era. However, there is a lot that has to do with parenting as well. There are children all over the place in this book! As a result, youngsters are constantly present in our performance. There are Black guys in the corridors of Congress, it occurred to me two decades after the events depicted in the novel. “Forty years later, W.E.B. Dubois founded the NAACP and the journal.” He took a breath to emphasize something. “I came to the realization that this was one of the most amazing acts of collective parenting the world has ever witnessed.” They took care of the youngsters. As a result, the book contains the genesis of my ancestors’ recontextualization. We hear that Black families have always been fragmented, and that Black dads have always been gone from their children’s lives. “There is nothing that could be further from the truth. ” The actors and crew were given a specific direction by Jenkins throughout the filming of the series, which he described as follows: “I told them, “We’re not going to levitate, but we’ll find a way to manufacture magic, the same way our predecessors did.” The cruel slave hunter Ridgeway is played by Joel Edgerton in Amazon’s “The Underground Railroad.” Kim Whyte, a mental health psychologist, noted that several of the actors who played racists in the series had problems dealing with their characters. Image courtesy of Atsushi Nishijima/Amazon Studios. He enlisted the help of Kim Whyte, a mental health counselor located in Georgia, in order to provide a safe and open setting for the discussion of tough and frequently visceral subject matter. Whyte has worked with the military, schools, and community organizations, providing counseling and assistance. Jenkins expressed his displeasure at Whyte’s involvement by saying, “I didn’t want these pictures, even while we were unpacking them, to unpack us.” Whyte expressed gratitude to Jenkins for the confidence he placed in her, saying, “I couldn’t find a model before me in terms of being a mental health counselor on a film set.” Barry provided me with the opportunity to engage with everyone on the set. He didn’t throw up any obstacles, and he actively urged everyone to make use of my services. His permission to connect with them after takes and in between takes was really appreciated!” She described her encounter as “eye-opening.” Everyone was going through their emotions as they dealt with this very difficult subject matter.” Each individual has their own distinct approach to dealing with the subject matter. But they all had lives of their own. There were new infants born, deaths in their families, and new beginnings in their relationships. “It was simply them, trusting us, trusting Barry, trusting themselves, trusting me, trusting each other,” says the narrator. We were like a family, and we all worked together.” There were a few instances where some of the performers who were portraying racists struggled to deal with their roles. “It’s a stain on humanity that we all share,” Whyte stated. People would approach me and tell me, ‘I have to depict this.’ What should I say to my mother to explain this? ‘This character is not one of my favorites.’ It was necessary for them to unravel the emotions they were required to depict at times. The feeling that they should not feel a particular way belonging to the Black crew and Black performers, and that they shouldn’t be offended was expressed by a handful of individuals. ‘Yes, you have every right to be unhappy about this,’ I remarked as we went through it. Yes, it was a crime against African-Americans, but it was also a criminal against mankind. And you are a human being.’ They needed to realize that it wasn’t their anger. “When the program launches, Jenkins plans to get out of town and spend a few days at a cottage in the woods,” according to the report. “After that, I’ll return and confront the tidal wave.” Working on “The Underground Railroad,” he continued, adding a smirk, “probably took 612 months out of my life.” “I have a strong suspicion that my obituary will be published six months early than it should.” “However, the effort was worthwhile.”
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Researching Underground Railroad Activity
Since 2002, volunteers at the State Historical Society of Iowa have been doing research into the Underground Railroad’s presence in the state. The research and biographical form instructions can be found here. If you are interested in researching Underground Railroad activity in Iowa and have access to historical documents and primary sources, please review the instructions for submitting a research and biographical form to learn how you can contribute to the project.
- Instructions for the Research and Biographical Form
- Biographical Form
- Sample Biographical Form
- Biographical Form
Iowa and the Underground Railroad
Beginning in the late 1700s and continuing until the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the Underground Railroad was a network of people who assisted runaway slaves in their attempts to escape slavery. It included both northern and southern states, spanning from Texas all the way up to Maine. The vast majority of runaway slaves fled to Canada from the Deep South, although a minor number journeyed further south to Mexico and the Caribbean. Due to the fact that slaves were considered property in the United States at the time, helping runaway slaves was deemed larceny under American law at the time.
Prior to the American Revolution, slavery was lawful across the British Empire, including the United States.
These principles would transform the lives of black people, and many of them fought in the American Revolution in the hope that these rights would be given to them as well.
Vermont became the first state in the new United States of America to pass anti-slavery legislation after the British were defeated in the Revolutionary War in 1777.
Apart from that, there were no laws in the newly created United States that forced civilians to return fugitive slaves to their owners.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and Article IV, section 2 of the United States Constitution both stated similar views on the subject at the time.
Taking it a step further, the Fleeing Slave Act of 1850 declared aiding and abetting fugitive slaves a federal felony punishable by penalties or jail.
As the Underground Railroad network began to take shape, people began to fill a number of positions inside it.
Fugitive slaves were often referred to as passengers, cargo, fleece, or freight when they were on the run.
Others choose to play a more passive role.
The modes of transportation used varied from one region to the next, and were mostly determined by concealment and closeness to slave hunters.
In contrast to this, the majority of fleeing slaves travelled at night, particularly in towns with ambivalent sentiments regarding slavery.
In the middle of the night, conductors would walk or ride horses to the next station to transport them.
Because of its physical proximity between Missouri, a slave state to the south, and Illinois, a free state to the east, Iowa saw a substantial amount of Underground Railroad activity during this period.
That meant that when Iowa became a state in the Union in 1846, it would be a free state.
Most fugitive slaves crossed through Iowa on their route to other free states farther north or to Canada, where Britain would protect them from being arrested and returned to slavery.
Southeastern Iowa was also home to a large number of fugitive slaves from northern Missouri who were making their way to the Mississippi River and Illinois.
Numerous Iowans also became involved in the growing political opposition to the expansion of slavery into the Kansas and Nebraska Territories, which culminated in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and granted Kansas and Nebraska the authority to determine their own slave-holding status.
You may get further information about the history of the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movements in Iowa and other states by clicking here. Take a look at the resources listed below.
- The John Brown Freedom Trail (1859)
- Abolitionist Movement Primary Sources
- Underground Railroad Primary Sources
- Underground Railroad Sites in the Iowa Culture mobile app