‘The Underground Railroad’ Is A “Commentary On Today” Says Breakout Star Thuso Mbedu.
What was the Underground Railroad and how did it work?
- During the era of slavery, the Underground Railroad was a network of routes, places, and people that helped enslaved people in the American South escape to the North. The name “Underground Railroad” was used metaphorically, not literally. It was not an actual railroad, but it served the same purpose—it transported people long distances.
Did Harriet Tubman use the North Star?
Harriet Tubman, who grew up near the refuge in Dorchester County, Maryland, used Polaris as her guiding light as she and other escaped slaves fled north on the Underground Railroad, a path forged by freedom-seeking slaves and abolitionists in the 19th century.
What did the slaves call the North Star?
What are some other ways escaping slaves could determine where “north” was? One of the best clues they could use to find north was to locate the North Star. The North Star is also called Polaris.
What was the North Star by Frederick Douglass?
Douglass founded and edited his first antislavery newspaper, The North Star, beginning December 3, 1847. The title referred to the bright star, Polaris, that helped guide those escaping slavery to the North.
When did the Underground Railroad star?
Established in the early 1800s and aided by people involved in the Abolitionist Movement, the underground railroad helped thousands of slaves escape bondage. By one estimate, 100,000 slaves escaped from bondage in the South between 1810 and 1850.
Who followed the Northern Star?
As the well-known story in the Gospel of Matthew goes, three Magi, or wise men, followed the Star of Bethlehem to Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.
How did slaves navigate the Underground Railroad?
Conductors helped runaway slaves by providing them with safe passage to and from stations. They did this under the cover of darkness with slave catchers hot on their heels. Many times these stations would be located within their own homes and businesses.
What star did slaves follow?
As slave lore tells it, the North Star played a key role in helping slaves to find their way—a beacon to true north and freedom. Escaping slaves could find it by locating the Big Dipper, a well-recognized asterism most visible in the night sky in late winter and spring.
How did Harriet Tubman find her way north?
Harriet Tubman traveled at night so that she would not be seen by slave catchers. Just as other fugitives, such as Frederick Douglass, she followed the North Star that guided her north.
Is Polaris a star?
Bad Astronomy: Polaris, the North Star, is a very bright star.
Was The North Star successful?
Despite Douglass’s efforts, the paper was not a financial success. He earned extra money lecturing and even mortgaged his home in 1848 to keep the newspaper going. By 1851, financial difficulties caused him to merge The North Star with the Liberty Party Paper, a newspaper published by the abolitionist Gerrit Smith.
Why did Douglass start The North Star?
He established the abolitionist paper The North Star on December 3, 1847, in Rochester, NY, and developed it into the most influential black antislavery paper published during the antebellum era. It was used to not only denounce slavery, but to fight for the emancipation of women and other oppressed groups.
Who was the founder of The North Star?
After he ran away, Douglass tirelessly fought for emancipation and full citizenship for African Americans. Despite the failure of earlier African American newspapers, Douglass founded the The North Star in December 1847.
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.
Who was the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad?
Our Headlines and Heroes blog takes a look at Harriet Tubman as the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. Tubman and those she helped escape from slavery headed north to freedom, sometimes across the border to Canada.
Pathways to Freedom
Take the path of the Drinking Gourd. Slaves who managed to flee had to make their way north. States in the north, such as New York and Massachusetts, had active abolitionist societies and charitable organizations — both black and white — that were willing to assist runaway slaves. The last destination for the slaves was Canada, which was located north of the United States border. Abolition of slavery was not authorized in the country, and American laws that allowed citizens to apprehend fugitive slaves were of little use there either.
They were well aware that moss typically grew on the north faces of trees.
Finding the North Star was one of the most important indicators they could use to determine their location in the north.
It is unlike other stars in that it does not shift its position.
- People have historically relied on a constellation of stars to guide them to the North Star.
- People have said that the group resembles a Big Bear at times.
- The Drinking Gourd was the name given to this group of stars by slaves.
- The gourds had a similar appearance to long-handled cups.
- It was possible for persons traveling at night to always find the North Star by looking for the “drinking gourd” in the sky.
- Many people are familiar with the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” which was written in the 1960s.
- The song is a mashup of ancient concepts and fresh phrases created by a diverse group of musicians.
‘The Underground Railroad’ Is A “Commentary On Today” Says Breakout Star Thuso Mbedu
If social media is any indicator, the fact thatThuso Mbedu had 1.3 million Instagram followers even before her breakout performance in The Underground Railroadwas published in the United States should be seen as a sign that she is about to become a well-established celebrity. A large portion of Mbedu’s fan base is based in her home country of South Africa, where she first gained prominence on television in the soap operaScandalin 2015 before garnering a nomination for an International Emmy Award for her part in the drama seriesIs’Thunzi in 2017.
- It would be a while before she would see Francine Maisler, who cast the program, and eventually Jenkins himself, and in the meanwhile, she devoured Colson Whitehead’s novel, on which the film is based, to prepare for their meeting.
- Whitehead is able to paint this image,” she adds of the information she discovered in the pages of The Underground Railroad.
- Cora’s adventure had a profound impact on her.
- And there was something significant about the story’s open-ended finale, which I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
- “For me, it was a remark on the state of the world today.
- There is never a time or a place for a satisfactory conclusion.
- “It was a really important message.” Cora is the main character in The Underground Railroad, and she is the one who tells the most of the tale.
- It demanded a great deal of her, and part of the audition process, according to her, was about determining if she would have the stamina to create a character of this caliber over the course of a 10-month shoot.
Mbedu explains that “Barry told me that he doesn’t direct the first take.” “You make an offer based on what you’ve learned from the character, and he then walks you through the rest of the process.” It was incredible to be able to operate in this manner since it gave the impression that the dialogue could flow effortlessly.
- As she explains, “there were times when I had to take a break from the study because it was so heavy.” ‘It was a lot to take in emotionally,’ I remember thinking at the time.
- Heard recordings of former slaves and read testimonies, and she was moved to tears.
- However, despite her feelings of sadness after reading about the experiences of those who perished, she recognized the potential for The Underground Railroadto convey this history to new generations.
- Divide and conquer is something we know the system is good at since it was the strategy that worked so effectively for apartheid,” says the author.
- With time, I believe a series like this may represent a turning point in our collective consciousness.” Mbedu’s star continues to soar in the industry.
When it comes to Mbedu, Davis describes being “mesmerized,” and it’s a refrain that appears repeatedly in reviews for The Underground Railroad, despite the fact that Prince-Bythewood hadn’t seen any of her performance in Jenkins’ show before casting her in the role, and she describes Mbedu as a “generational talent.” Dahomey, a Western African country in the 18th and 19th centuries, is the setting for this film, which depicts the story of its female soldiers.
“I carry a machete because my character is a badass,” Mbedu explains with a giggle.
My roots are still in South Africa, and we’ll be filming The Woman King there, even in my home province, which is a major deal for me.” “I still have roots in South Africa, and we’ll be filming The Woman King there, including in my home province, which is a significant deal for me.” The South African film industry, in particular, has high hopes for Mbedu’s worldwide success, which she hopes to transfer into substantial prosperity for the country.
- Is she fighting for herself, or for everyone else?
- “The materials are readily available.
- It’s basically a case of everything being abused.
- I want you to know that projects are worthless without the crew is on board, therefore I want you to pay them fairly and treat them with respect.
“I’ve worked on projects where I’ve developed friends with the crew members and we’ve discussed the possibility of working together to create something new. These are the chances we have to create for ourselves, since we could well be the precise solution we’ve been searching for.”
AstroFan: Tale of the Drinking Gourd
The Big Dipper is, without a doubt, one of the most well-known constellations in our night sky. But did you know that during the time of the Underground Railroad, this night-sky icon served as a beacon of hope for those seeking freedom in the United States? A large number of American slaves utilized the Big Dipper—also known as the Drinking Gourd—as a navigational aid to locate the North Star in the night sky, which brought them to the northern (freed) states during the early to mid-19th centuries.
Please take a look at the following excerpt, which appears to have come directly from a GPS navigational device: Following the drinking gourd is a good idea.
The path will be marked by dead trees.
It was only through being able to gaze to the stars for directional guidance that slaves were able to overcome these unfair setbacks and continue their journey towards liberation.
More About The North Star
An often-heard myth is that the North Star is the brightest star in the night sky. This is not true at all. This is completely false. It is actually just around the 50th brightest star in the sky! Despite the fact that it is not the brightest star in the sky, the North Star functioned as an excellent celestial guide for slaves since it stayed in the same location in the northern night sky throughout the year! As a result, the North star became a trustworthy method of determining which direction was due north at all times.
If you were to take a time lapse video of the night sky, you would see that all of the stars appear to be rotating around the sun.
Spotting The Drinking Gourd And The North Star
You may utilize the Big Dipper (Drinking Gourd) to locate the North Star, much as the ancients did (Polaris). Simply follow the path of the outermost portion of the Big Dipper until you reach the tail end of the Little Dipper, and you’ll have discovered the North Star. Simple as that! So, the next time you see the Big Dipper, keep this in mind. Years of research have revealed that the act of gazing up has not only inspired amazement and wonder in centuries of humanity, but it has also functioned as a navigational aid in the pursuit of a better tomorrow.
Thank you for taking the time to read this!
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BIG DIPPER –
It is possible for you to locate the North Star by utilizing the Big Dipper (Drinking Gourd) (Polaris). Simply follow the path of the outermost portion of the Big Dipper until you reach the tail end of the Little Dipper, and you’ll have discovered the North Star. Simple as that. When you see the Big Dipper next time, keep these things in mind: For centuries of mankind, the act of gazing up has not only inspired amazement and wonder, but it has also acted as a navigational aid in the pursuit of a better future.
Keep an eye out for more amazing space facts in the upcoming AstroFan episode! Please accept my sincere thanks for taking the time to read! LunarFan (Bianca, aka AstroFan) says:
Filming ‘The Underground Railroad’ was grueling. But the cast grasped ‘the weight of what we were doing.’
In several instances, when main actress Thuso Mbedu stepped onto the set of “The Underground Railroad,” she was forced to brace herself for what she and her character, the enslaved Cora, and those she loved would be subjected to in the coming months. In the 10-part Amazon series “Cora,” which premieres Friday and is directed by Barry Jenkins and based on Colson Whitehead’s novel of the same name, the moral depravities of subjugation and slavery are contrasted with the humanity, ingenuity, and determination of enslaved people, as exemplified by Cora.
- Despite the fact that the program boasts intricate storytelling and great photography, Jenkins handled it with a deep well of compassion, which is maybe the most significant aspect of the show.
- Whitehead’s book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2017, the same year that Barry Jenkins’ film “Moonlight” was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture.
- Cora is led from a Georgia plantation to the Underground Railroad by Caesar, an enslaved man who is played by Aaron Pierre.
- “Colson is a master genius, and Barry is a master genius, and when you put them together, it’s an eruption of genius.” “Colson and Barry are both master geniuses,” says Barry.
- Many of those worlds are eerily reminiscent of all-too-real events in American horror history, such as the government’s Tuskegee experiments or the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
- It was necessary for Mbedu to employ techniques, such as strolling across the set with her eyes downcast, so that when she opened her eyes, she would be experiencing everything just as Cora, since else it would be too much for Thuso to handle.
- Her life and Cora’s, on the other hand, are clearly separated, with the actress depending on “a whole lot of study” to bring the character’s vocal, physical, and psychological journey to life on the screen.
(The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.) “Underground Railroad” is a show that is brutal in its depiction of slavery, but it is ultimately more about the struggle for liberation in the face of insurmountable difficulties.
“The novel and the series commemorate the enormous amount of fortitude these individuals must have had to have in order to endure such catastrophic suffering,” says Pierre, who adds that even Caesar, who is subjected to horrible torture, achieves some kind of success.
In particular, he emphasizes the importance of “the ability for resilience” in the tale since “that is the experience of Black people in this nation,” he adds.
“There’s a lot to grasp and comprehend in these situations, and what was written was so tenderly presented,” Harper says of the performances.
As a result, even if Caesar’s emotions are strongly displayed on his face, he normally maintains a surprising level of physical calm.
“That’s what struck a chord with me.” In order to tell Cora’s story effectively, Jenkins added characters, rewrote key scenes, and delved deeply into her mother’s past, which she shares with Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), the slave catcher who pursues Cora with a vengeance and Mabel (Sheila Atim), Cora’s mother, who had run away and vanished years earlier, leaving Ridgeway and Cora enraged for very different reasons, respectively.
Mabel, a midwife on the plantation, risks her own safety by infuriating those in authority when she speaks up and defends other women who require more humane treatment after childbirth, before she ultimately cracks and flees, leaving her little daughter in the care of strangers.
As Atim puts it, “Mabel embodies the internal conflict that so many individuals were going through.” “She was bringing life into that world and wanted to do it in a safe manner while also acknowledging that she is still perpetuating this system — of which she is a victim herself.
“When a disturbed individual finds themselves in a position of power, it is a hazardous mix,” Edgerton adds, highlighting the parallels to contemporary times.
Those activities have an impact on their life, but they also have an impact on the lives of everyone with whom they come into touch, and they inflict a great deal of harm to everyone else.” Jenkins developed or added connections with other characters for Cora, giving her a sense of camaraderie as well as a sense of duty.
In the aftermath of her mother’s abandonment, Cora had decided to keep everyone at arm’s length, but she has now realized and accepted that she does not have to go alone on her path, according to Mbedu, whose work on Jenkins further increased the feeling of Black community responsibility.
According to Mbedu, “This is a lesson for me that I am physically analyzing and talking myself through on a daily basis.” “This narrative provides us with a peek of what you might be able to achieve as you forge your path forward,” says the author.
Songs of the Underground Railroad – Wikipedia
Finding Polaris (Ursae Minoris), the North Star, can be accomplished by picturing a line running from Merak () to Dubhe () and then extending it for five times the distance between Dubhe () and Polaris. The title of the song is thought to be a reference to the star configuration (anasterism) known in America as the Big Dipper and in Europe as The Plough, both of which are visible in the night sky. The Big Dipper’s pointer stars are in perfect alignment with the North Star. As a result, the repeated lyric “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” in this song is sometimes understood as a directive to runaway slaves to trek north by following the North Star in this song.
Songs were used to send messages and directions regarding when, where, and how to flee, as well as to warn slaves of hazards and difficulties they may encounter along the way, because it was prohibited in most slave states to educate slaves to read or write.
” Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd ” is a song that has been attributed to the Underground Railroad. The title of the song is thought to be a reference to the star configuration (anasterism) known in America as the Big Dipper and in Europe as The Plough, both of which are visible in the night sky. The Big Dipper’s pointer stars are in perfect alignment with the North Star. The repeated lyric “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” in this song is sometimes understood as directions to fleeing slaves to journey north by following the North Star, which will take them to the northern states, Canada, and freedom: “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd.” It’s said that the song contains escape instructions and a map that takes the listener from Mobile, Alabama up the Tombigbee River, across a split to the Tennessee River, and then downriver to the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers in Paducah, Kentucky Another song with a rumored hidden significance is “Now Let Me Fly,” which is based on the biblical account of Ezekiel’s Wheels and is sung by the band.
- The majority of the song is devoted to the idea of a promised country.
- According to some, the spiritual song “Go Down Moses,” which represents the biblical account of Moses guiding his people to freedom in Exodus, may be a veiled reference to the conductors on the Underground Railroad.
- Music plays a significant role in the religion of African Americans today, just as it did in the telling of the story of liberation in the past.
- Frederick Douglass, an American slave, wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, in the nineteenth century (1845), Douglass provides examples of how the songs performed by slaves had different meanings, which he explains in detail.
- In My Bondage and Freedom: A Novel, Douglass makes similar observations but does not provide conclusive proof.
- We wanted to go to the north – and the north was Canaan, as it were.
Among others, it connoted the hope of a swift call to a realm of spirits; but among our party, it merely denoted the prospect of an expeditious journey toward a free state and freedom from all of the miseries and perils of slavery.” As with his previous observations, Douglass’ observations here do not provide conclusive evidence that slaves were successful in using coded song lyrics to aid their escape; he is writing here only about his small group of slaves who are encouraging one another as they finalize their plans to escape, not about the widespread use of coded song lyrics to aid escaping slaves.
According to his own words, at the beginning of this same paragraph, their master may have seen through their basic code: “I am the more inclined to believe that he suspected us since.
we did numerous foolish things, all of which were very well tailored to arouse suspicion.” Douglass quickly goes on to mention how their constant singing of the national anthem of freedom was one of the “many stupid things” that they had been doing.
Urban legend or truth
” Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd ” is one of the songs that has been attributed to the Underground Railroad. This star configuration (anasterism) is known as the Big Dipper in America and The Plough in Europe. The title of the song is thought to be a reference to this star formation (anasterism). In alignment with the North Star, the pointer stars of the Big Dipper are visible. Thus, the repeated lyric “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” in this song is frequently understood as an advice to fleeing slaves to journey north by following the North Star, guiding them to the northern states, Canada, and freedom: “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd.” It’s said that the song contains escape instructions and a map that takes the listener from Mobile, Alabama up the Tombigbee River, across a split to the Tennessee River, and then downriver to the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers in Paducah.
- In addition to “Now Let Me Fly,” which is based on the biblical narrative of Ezekiel’s Wheels, there is another song with a rumored hidden meaning: “Now Let Me Fly.” In the majority of the song, the promise of a new place is mentioned again.
- According to some, the spiritual song “Go Down Moses,” which represents the biblical account of Moses guiding his people to liberation in the book of Exodus, may be a disguised allusion to conductors on the Underground Railroad.
- Similarly to the story of liberation, music is vital in the religious practices of African Americans today.
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, a 19th-century autobiography written by Frederick Douglass (1845), Douglass provides examples of how slaves’ songs had different meanings, which he explains in detail.
- In My Bondage and Freedom: A Novel, Douglass makes similar observations but does not provide conclusive proof.
- I thought I heard them say,/ There were lions in the way,/ I don’t expect to stay/ Much longer here/was a beloved song that had a double meaning for the author and audience.
- According to his own words, at the beginning of this same paragraph, their master may have seen through their basic code: “I am the more inclined to believe that he suspected us since.
we did numerous foolish things, all of which were very well tailored to raise suspicion.” Immediately after, Douglass goes on to mention how their constant singing of the national anthem of freedom was one of the “many stupid things.”
“Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd”
According to some sources, the hypothesis arose from an elaboration of a folktale recorded in John A. Lomax’s 1934 book American Ballads and Folk Songs. He quotes a story from H.B Parks in his preface to “Foller de Drinkin’ Gou’d,” on page 227, in his section on reels: “One of my great-uncles, who was connected with the railroad movement, remembered that in the records of the Anti-Slavery Society there was a story of a peg-leg sailor, known asPeg-Leg Joe, who traveled through the South and induced young Negroes .
Peg-leg sailors would.
There was nothing else that could be discovered about the individual.
‘The grea’ huge un’ is known as the Ohio.
Songs associated with the Underground Railroad
- Following the Drinking Gourd
- Go Down Moses
- Let Us Break Bread Together
- Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
- Steal Away(To Jesus)
- Wade in the Water
- Song of the Free
- Follow the Drinking Gourd
- Swing Low, Sweet Chariot On his album Africa/Brass, John Coltrane has a song named “Song of the Underground Railroad,” as well as “Down in the River to Pray,” ” Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” and ” Down in the River to Pray.”
- Following the Drinking Gourd
- Go Down Moses
- Let Us Break Bread Together
- Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
- Steal Away(To Jesus)
- Wade in the Water
- Song of the Free
- Following the Drinking Gourd
- Let Us Break Bread Together. On his album Africa/Brass, John Coltrane features a tune named “Song of the Underground Railroad,” as well as “Down in the River to Pray,” ” Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” and “Down in the River to Pray Again. “
- ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd, A Cultural History’ is a book about following the drinking gourd. “Collection Story,” “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History,” “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History.” Song lyrics were retrieved on October 18, 2010
- This page was last modified on August 9, 2010. Ray Watson is the author of “Ezekiel’s Wheels” and “The Secret Place.” This page was last modified on August 9, 2010. Curry Brothers Publishing (2006) published the book The Legend of the Dancing Trees, Teachers Resource, written by Kenneth Curry and Gladys Menzies with Robert Curry. Every Time I Feel the Spirit: 101 Best-Loved Psalms, Gospel Hymns, and Other Spiritual Songs, by Gwendolin Sims Warren In Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, published by Owl Books in 1999, p. 16 it is stated: Three of the songs in this spirituals section, ” Swing Low, Sweet Chariot “, “Go Down, Moses “, and “Steal Away “, are sung in the following ways: Craig Werner’s book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America, is a must-read. According to the University of Michigan Press (2006), p. 7: “Songs like, “Wade in the water,” “Good news, de chariot’s coming,” “Swing low sweet chariot,” and “Steal away” were all supposed to have coded meanings, according to Claude A. Green, Jr.’s OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47: “Songs like, “Wade in the water,” ” The following is taken from William C. Kashatus’ Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, published by the Chester County Historical Society in 2002, page 18: ” “A song called “Follow the Drinking Gourd” was used by some slaves to communicate their desire to emancipate themselves, according to folklorists, and the words contained hidden messages. “Wade in the Water, Children,” says the instructor. “Let’s get together and have some bread.””
- s^ Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004), p. 665: Oliver Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004), p. 665: “Gospelologists point to the song ” Wade in the Water ” as an example of a song that was written for one reason but was covertly utilized for a different one. Slaves recited it as part of the baptismal rite, but it was also used by Underground RailroadconductorHarriet Tubman (dubbed “a woman name Moses”) to communicate to fugitive slaves fleeing to the North that they should “wade in the water” in order to throw bloodhounds off their scent as they attempted to reach the North.”
- s^ Marc Aronson’s article “History That Never Happened” appeared in the April 1, 2007 issue of School Library Journal. James Kelley is the author of this work (April 2008). “Whether via song, tale, or history, African American spirituals are defying claims of a hidden message. “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” the drinking gourd says “. In 2008, The Journal of Popular Culture published 41(2): 262–80 with the doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2008.00502.x
- Joel Bresler’s “Follow the Drinking Gourd: A Cultural History” is available online. retrieved on 2008-05-05
- See pages 26–27
- Marc Aronson’s article “History That Never Happened” appeared in the April 1, 2007 issue of School Library Journal. “There may be an older version of “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” that was sung by escaping slaves, and this may be the discovery of some industrious researcher in the future. Our job to young readers, in the meantime, is to pay attention to our own doubts and to be candid skeptics in our own lives. It is up to the next generation of scholars to demonstrate that we were mistaken
- “Song, Story, or History: Resisting Claims of a Coded Message in the African American Spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” The Journal of Popular American Culture 41.2 (April 2008): 262–80
- H.B. Parks in Volume VII of the Publications of the Texas Folk-Lore Society). James Kelley, ” Song, Story, or History: Resisting Claims of a Coded Message in the African American Spiritual “Follow “
- In addition, there is the constellation known as the Big Dipper, which is utilized for navigational purposes. The North Star will always point you in the right direction. Tubman is said to have utilized the Big Dipper and the North Star as navigational aids. In the words of some authors, Tubman would explain that her father taught her about the Big Dipper so that she would always know where she was on her road to freedom
- AbcWilliam C. Kashatus,Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, Chester County Historical Society (2002), p. 18
- AbcGwendolin Sims Warren,Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit: 101 Best-Loved Psalms, Gospel Hymns, and Spirituals, p. 18
- AbcWilliam C. Kashatus,Just over the Line: Chester County and the Underground Railroad, Chester Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, Owl Books (1999), p. 16
- Ab Spiritual Songs of the African-American Church, Owl Books (1999), p. 16
- Claude A. Green, Jr., OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47
- Craig Werner, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America, Infinity Publishing (2006), p. 47
- Claude A. Green, Jr., OurStory: Putting Color Back Into His-Story: What We Dragged Out of Slavery, Infinity Publishing 665
- Oliver Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, Billboard Books (2004)
- University of Michigan Press (2006), p. 7
Myths About the Underground Railroad
When it comes to teaching African-American Studies today, one of the great delights is the satisfaction that comes from being able to restore to the historical record “lost” events and the persons whose sacrifices and bravery enabled those events to take place, never to be lost again. Among our ancestors’ long and dreadful history of human bondage is the Underground Railroad, which has garnered more recent attention from teachers, students, museum curators, and the tourism industry than any other institution from the black past.
- Nevertheless, in the effort to convey the narrative of this magnificent institution, fiction and lore have occasionally taken precedence over historical truth.
- The sacrifices and valor of our forefathers and foremothers, as well as their allies, are made all the more noble, heroic, and striking as a result.
- I think this is a common misconception among students.
- As described by Wilbur H.
Running slaves, frequently in groups of up to several families, were said to have been directed at night on their desperate journey to freedom by the traditional “Drinking Gourd,” which was the slaves’ secret name for the North Star.
The Railroad in Lore
Following is a brief list of some of the most frequent myths regarding the Underground Railroad, which includes the following examples: 1. It was administered by well-intentioned white abolitionists, many of whom were Quakers. 2. The Underground Railroad was active throughout the southern United States. Most runaway slaves who managed to make their way north took refuge in secret quarters hidden in attics or cellars, while many more managed to escape through tunnels. Fourteenth, slaves made so-called “freedom quilts,” which they displayed outside their homes’ windows to signal fugitives to the whereabouts of safe houses and safe ways north to freedom.
When slaves heard the spiritual “Steal Away,” they knew Harriet Tubman was on her way to town, or that an ideal opportunity to run was approaching.
scholars like Larry Gara, who wrote The Liberty Line: The Legend of the Underground Railroad and Blight, among other works, have worked tirelessly to address all of these problems, and I’ll outline the proper answers based on their work, and the work of others, at the conclusion of this piece.
A Meme Is Born
As Blight correctly points out, the railroad has proven to be one of the most “enduring and popular strands in the fabric of America’s national historical memory.” Since the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans, particularly in New England and the Midwest, have either made up legends about the deeds of their ancestors or simply repeated stories that they have heard about their forebears.
It’s worth taking a look at the history of the phrase “Underground Railroad” before diving into those tales, though.
Tice Davids was a Kentucky slave who managed to escape to Ohio in 1831, and it is possible that the phrase “Underground Railroad” was invented as a result of his successful escape.
According to Blight, he is believed to have said that Davids had vanished as though “the nigger must have gone off on an underground railroad.” This is a fantastic narrative — one that would be worthy of Richard Pryor — but it is improbable, given that train lines were non-existent at the time.
The fleeing slave from Washington, D.C., who was tortured and forced to testify that he had been taken north, where “the railroad extended underground all the way to Boston,” according to one report from 1839, was captured.
constructed from Mason and Dixon’s to the Canada line, upon which fugitives from slavery might come pouring into this province” is the first time the term appears.
14, 1842, in the Liberator, a date that may be supported by others who claim that abolitionist Charles T. Torrey invented the phrase in 1842, according to abolitionist Charles T. Torrey. As David Blight points out, the phrase did not become widely used until the mid-1840s, when it was first heard.
Myth Battles Counter-Myth
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a handy weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to accomplish this goal.
Immediately following the fall of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to purportedly uneducated or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for independence was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a poor and nameless “inferior” race.
Siebert questioned practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from the South to freedom as part of his investigation.
In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey to freedom.”
Truth Reveals Unheralded Heroism
Historically, the appeal of romance and fantasy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced back to the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over what the Civil War was all about — burying Lost Cause mythology deep in the national psyche and eventually propelling the racist Woodrow Wilson to the presidency. Many white Northerners attempted to retain a heroic version of their history in the face of a dominant Southern interpretation of the significance of the Civil War, and they found a valuable weapon in the stories of the Underground Railroad to do this.
Immediately following the collapse of Reconstruction in 1876, which was frequently attributed to supposedly ignorant or corrupt black people, the story of the struggle for freedom was transformed into a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a downtrodden and faceless, nameless race of “inferiors.” Wilbur Siebert’s 1898 essay on the Underground Railroad is credited with a great deal of modern ignorance and myth-making regarding the railroad.
Siebert interviewed practically everyone who was still alive who had any recollection of the network and even flew to Canada to interview former slaves who had traced their own pathways from slavery to freedom in the United States.
He also placed far too much emphasis on the work of so-called white conductors. In the words of David Blight, Siebert “crafted a popular tale of largely white conductors assisting nameless blacks on their journey toward freedom.”