LINCOLNTON––It was a patchwork of courage, linked by a metaphorical railroad.
Between the early years of the 19th century and the War Between the States, an estimated 100,000 slaves escaped bondage in the South to find freedom in Northern states, Canada, Mexico and overseas. Canada was the most desirable destination, as the British government refused to co-operate with the American Fugitive Slave Law. Hiding to rest by day and traveling usually on foot by the dark of night, slaves would leave Virginia and cross over into neighboring Ohio (West Virginia did not yet exist), heading thence to Ontario via ferries across Lake Erie, or later, by the 1830’s, going from the Michigan Territory straight into Ontario. Some 30,000 escaped slaves reached Canada this way, usually settling in Ontario, according to historian Waldo Martin.
And you can learn more about this important chapter in American history when you attend a free public presentation on the freedom quilts of the Underground Railroad, Feb. 12, 6-8:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Cultural Center and Providence Missionary Baptist Church, respectively located in uptown Lincolnton at 403 E. Main St. and 1110 E. Pine St. The event will be presented by the Arts Council of Lincoln County.
Arts Council spokeswoman Deana McGinnis offered further explication about the event on Friday.
It will be, said McGinnis, “a night filled with remembering how African slaves used the secret code of quilt squares on their journey to freedom.”
She added that at the cultural center, Marsha Millsaps will portray Harriet Tubman, one of the most prominent leaders of the Underground Railroad. Millsaps will explain how Tubman helped slaves using the secret codes of barn quilts in the Underground Railroad.
And at Providence Missionary Baptist, you can see the signs, books, quilts and historic memorabilia from the long journey taken to freedom. The church’s choir will sing hymns, and the youth group will perform, as McGinnis informed.
“You will not want to miss this one special night of a walk through history,” she said.
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