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Hinman, Mountainview residents march route to freedom

By : Shirley Yi Lin

Rachelle Moore had a dream. Learning that the Greater Binghamton area played such a key role in the movement of slaves through the Underground Railroad to Canada, the Mountainview Community faculty master wanted to find a way to honor them.

And with February being Black History Month, she thought the best way would be for Mountainview and Hinman College to pay homage by co-hosting “The Underground Railroad Experience,” a three-part series aimed at educating students about the courageous early Americans who constructed and used the railroad to battle slavery.

“I wanted to do something very special and unique for Black History Month,” Moore said. “I have always been interested in it because of its importance in American history. Many of the people involved have never received much attention with the exception of Harriet Tubman. I also knew that New York and Pennsylvania had stations, so I thought it would be interesting to the students to see how local, regional and national events were related to African-American history.”

Built in the 1800s as a migration effort to free slaves from the south, the Underground Railroad was a collaborative effort between the north and south, black and white, rich and poor, and members of different faiths.

“I believe in order to know where you are going, you need to know where you have been,” said Sherwin Clarke, a senior mathematics major. “The Underground Railroad is sometimes overlooked as part of American history. Not everybody knows about the struggle that the slaves had to go through. That is an important part of American history, not just black history.”

The program will also include “Mid Passage: The Secrets of the Underground Railroad,” at 7 p.m. Monday, February 23, in the Hinman Commons. Libby Tucker, professor of English, will discuss the importance of secret codes in the quilts and songs from the times. Squares of fabric will be decorated and sewn into a quilt at the conclusion of the series.

A grand finale will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, March 1, beginning at the lower Hinman Dining Hall where participants can pick up lanterns before marching to other halls, marking the slaves’ route to Canada. Participants will march to Cleveland (Mississippi), Lehman (North and South Carolina) and the Hinman Commons.

Marchers will then journey to Roosevelt (Maryland), Hunter (Pennsylvania and New York) and Marcy (Canada), where the last lantern will be lit. “My colleague Rachelle Moore had a dream,” said Alvin Vos, Hinman faculty master. “She shared it with me. Now together, we have a dream. A dream about seeing our communities symbolically as spaces for the Underground Railroad. We proceed from Hinman to Mountainview. It’s like going from the south to freedom in Canada.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08