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Archive for February 21st, 2007

A fugitive’s path, a moving experience

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I just saw this information posted at the Beacon:

What: “A Fugitive’s Path: Escape on the Underground Railroad.”
When: Fridays and Saturdays through March 10, also March 30 and 31.
Where: Hale Farm & Village, 2686 Oak Hill Road, Bath Township.
Who should attend: Ages 13 and up.
Cost: $15
Information and reservations: Call 330-666-3711 or visit www.wrhs.org/halefarm.

I had the opportunity to experience this program when I was a senior in high school. Quite honestly, it is one of those experiences you never, ever forget. And it is something I almost think should be required of anyone studying American history, especially the period of slavery.

You start your evening in the visitors building reading wall after wall of wanted posters advertising for missing or runaway slaves as well as billboards for slave auctions with lots of adjectives such as “likely” and “sturdy.”

After becoming thoroughly enthralled (as I was) or disgusted (I was that, too) by the posters, you are literally corralled with the others at the program and made to go to auction. I can’t speak for everyone’s experience, but myself, it was humiliating and gross. We had to hold this freezing chain and march through muddy, unpaved paths holding it while the slave driver yelled at us like a drill sergeant. And that’s only the beginning.

You will then, after being sold (and made to stand on the platform and move around, side to side, jumping jacks, etc.), you will be taken to a small house where a not-so-nice slave driver will tell you he’s got another job lined up and wants to get the owner back. So he’s letting you go. But don’t look back because once the owner finds out, he’ll be after you.

You are told not to run, but walk quietly and cautiously, and don’t look back, no matter what you hear.

But then, you hear the guns and the dogs and you’re not even halfway across the field to the village where you’ll meet other runaways who will help guide you. And you run, because, it’s human instict to run from dogs and guns. And you know it’s pretend, but something in you tells you, well what if it’s not? And you hear one person, a girl, scream and the shots stop for a moment. And you glance back but can’t see anything in the pitch black. And you run even harder. And, if you haven’t already, you forget that it’s pretend.

So begins your journey.

It is a moving experience. I took away from the evening an entirely new understanding and appreciation of what people, not just the slaves but the abolitionists as well, went through to attain freedom.

I once wrote the experience out almost minute by minute as a dramatic narrative for my honors newswriting course. I would LOVE to see the Beacon or someone take a video camera or even an audio recorder and do a soundslides and get this experience in multimedia so everyone else who isn’t in the Akron area could experience it. Wow, even just imagining how moving that could be makes me wish they would.

Until they do, if you’re in the Northeast Ohio area, you definitely need to attend this annual event.

QOTD: We must not, in trying to make a big difference, ignore the small differences…

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
— Marian Wright Edelman