HARRISBURG, PA — State Rep. Christina Sappey, D-Chester, announced her plans to introduce a resolution that would designate September 2020 as “International Underground Railroad Month” in Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania’s history shows it was pivotal in the freedom of slaves via the Underground Railroad,” Sappey said. “The more research that was done, the more we uncovered safehouses, escape routes and hiding places across the entire state. Ordinary citizens and some former slaves known as ‘stationmasters’ would risk their own freedom to help their loved ones escape. It’s time to recognize the importance of the Underground Railroad. This designation honors this state, its people, and all of those who have fought and continue to fight for true freedom of all peoples.”
“This moment in time is a chance to reflect on all of those who fought tirelessly for their right to vote and true freedom,” said Dr. James Trotman, founding director of the Frederick Douglass Institute at West Chester University. “I tend to think of Douglass himself, and the North Star, his first newspaper, in another challenging time. After he attended the 1848 Women’s Rights Conference in Seneca Falls, New York, he changed the newspaper’s masthead to reflect the impact of the conference on him and our common struggle. The masthead read, ‘Right is of no sex; truth is of no color; God is the father of us all, and we are all brethren.’ We need to remember these words and that freedom is meant for everyone.”
Pennsylvania has a long history of freedom seekers and abolitionists:
- The American Anti-Slavery Society was an interracial organization dedicated to the entire abolition of slavery in the United States. This society was founded in Philadelphia in 1833.
- In 1838, the General Assembly deprived Black men of their established rights to vote. African Americans in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and their allies advocated for the restoration of their right to vote 32 years before the ratification of the 15th Amendment, showing Pennsylvania valued and advocated for civil and human rights.
- In 1851 freedom seekers and abolitionists defended their freedom at Christiana in Lancaster County.
- The Underground Railroad traced across Pennsylvania with lecturers and a series of safe houses, agents, conductors and stations in a network that helped freedom seekers realize their freedom in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
Questions may be directed to Sappey’s office by calling 484-200-8264.
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