As Niagara Falls celebrates the opening of a new center celebrating its role in the Underground railroad movement, some of those behind the project say they were given a little extra incentive thanks to newspaper stories questioning the legitimacy of Niagara Falls’ connection to the slavery freedom trail.
Many of us know and love traditional spirituals like Swing Low, Sweet Chariot or Wade in the Water. But a lesser known aspect is that many of these songs served as coded messages for the Underground Railroad. We’ll explore the connection between slavery and the songs that slaves sang on their way to freedom. (Producer: Crystal Sarakas)
No Man Can Hinder Me: The Journey From Slavery to Emancipation Through Song by Velma Maia Thomas
‘Coded Spirituals’ | A full teacher resource gallery from PBS LearningMedia. Follow the Drinking Gourd | This book, song video, and Reading Rainbow episode offer kids.
A growing number of colleges and universities in the eastern United States are confronting their historic ties to the slave trade. Profits from slavery and related industries helped build some of the most prestigious schools in New England. In many Southern states, enslaved people built and maintained college campuses. This documentary focuses on three universities — Harvard, Georgetown and the University of Virginia — as they grapple with a deeply troubling chapter in their vaunted histories. At the crux of the story is the question of how these institutions might make amends for the ways they participated in American slavery and the moral, political and practical issues under-riding that question.
Between the summers of 1864 and 1865, nearly 3,000 Confederate prisoners died at the Civil War prison camp in Elmira, New York. The monumental task of burying the dead fell upon a former runaway slave named John W. Jones. Today, an exhibit at the Chemung County Historical Society commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the camp and helps tell a small part of Jones’ incredible journey from slave to prominent citizen. JOHN W. JONES
John W. Jones was born into slavery on June 21, 1817 in Leesburg, Virginia. Twenty-seven years later, Jones and a small group of other runaway slaves made a perilous 300-mile journey to Elmira, New York, evading a group of slave catchers along the way.