News Release

Michigan Experts Discuss Michigan’s Underground Railroad

In 1820, fugitives from slavery in the American South began showing up at harbors such as Sandusky, Cleveland, Fairport, and Ashtabula on the southern shore of Lake Erie.  These and other places soon joined the Detroit River and the Niagara frontier as major crossing points for freedom seekers going to Canada.

Three local historians will discuss the role of Lake Erie in the Underground Railroad in the decades before the Civil War on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fountain Lounge, Student Center, McNichols Campus

Americans rarely think of waterways such as the Great Lakes as part of the system of slave escapes known as the Underground Railroad, yet friendly sailors and ship captains, along with intrepid abolitionists, helped hundreds of runaway slaves make a liquid passage to freedom.

The Underground Railroad historians are:

Tiya Miles, chair of the Department of Afro-American and African Studies and professor of History at University of Michigan.  Her essay, “Of Waterways and Runaways: Reflections on the Great Lakes in Underground Railroad History,” brought much-needed attention to this subject.

Carol Mull, historic preservationist, former chair of the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission and the author of The Underground Railroad in Michigan.

John Polascek, former Curator of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, has spent years uncovering evidence of specific Lake Erie crossings by runaway slaves.

This event is sponsored by the Black Abolitionist Archive at University of Detroit Mercy.  Admission is free and light refreshments will be served.

Release date: February 18, 2014

# # #