March 2, 2017
February 28, 2017, Derrick Wilburn sent out an email asking us to picture what it was like to use the Underground Railroad to escape slavery in the South.
Below is the text of the email with his description:
From: Rocky Mtn Black Conservatives <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 5:17 AM
To: – – –
Subject: What ‘the Underground Railroad’ really was
As we reach the end of ‘Black History Month’, have you EVER STOPPED TO THINK about what “The Underground Railroad” really was?? It was a testament to man’s innate desire for liberty.
Consider what these slaves did:
First of all imagine, just IMAGINE *walking* from somewhere in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, etc. to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey or Canada – which is where most escaped slaves traveled after 1850.
From Jackson, Mississippi to Newark, New Jersey is 1200 miles. That was 1200 miles the hard way.
You, your family and all the worldly possessions you could carry. They couldn’t use roads or popular trails. Had to avoid towns and civilization. For the most part had no beasts of burden and traveled mostly at night. Have you ever been in the deep south? Without lights, bug spray, GPS, medicines, decent shoes, etc.?
The south is dotted and crisscrossed with rivers, streams, creeks, bogs, swamps, ponds, lakes. They had to cross multiple bodies of water, often times several in one night. Especially challenging are moving bodies. Ponds can be walked around, rivers cannot.
Most could not swim. Bodies of water in the south then as now are ideal for reptilian life. Snakes, gators, snapping turtles and other predators. In the dark. Clinging to whatever you’ve got that floats – probably a log. Crossing that black, muddy, stinky water in the dark. Having no idea what’s in front of you, beneath you, you’re about to step on.
Come morning; muggy, sweltering southern United States daytime awaits. No a/c, of course. Hide out in the shade, a shack or whatever accommodations the ‘Conductors’ had secured for you and try to get some sleep. Come nightfall, …we’re on the hoof again. Men are hunting us. On horseback. With dogs, lanterns and guns.
We do this every day, every night for months. Hoping, praying to reach one thing. The one thing all men long for, will risk our lives for.