There's a Movement Afoot

By Eskridge, Ann E.; Fitzgerald, Sharon | American Visions, February 1999 | Go to article overview

There's a Movement Afoot


Eskridge, Ann E., Fitzgerald, Sharon, American Visions


Standing upon a Kentucky plantation's field of tobacco stubble, Beverly Gray gazed across the shoreline at Ohio. She wondered how slaves who once tilled this ground had managed to endure the endless, backbreaking work, knowing that freedom was just across the river.

Gray's musings continued as she walked across the field and peered down a steep embankment into the murky Ohio River. In awe, she imagined fugitive slaves running by night through the woods, carefully climbing down the hillside, making their way to the river's edge. If they were fortunate, a boat awaited to ferry them across the water. Gray thought of the brave runaways who never made it to freedom, as well as of the many who did.

As an educator and a member of the Ohio Underground Railroad Association, Gray spends much of her free time investigating and documenting sites that may have significance in the Underground Railroad movement. She has been researching African-American history, and particularly the Underground Railroad, for the past 30 years.

"I live smack in the middle of an incredible history that's never been told," says Gray. Her research has taken her throughout Ohio, and sometimes, as with her trip to Kentucky, into the bordering South. "[I] wanted to see for myself what a slave saw on the banks looking across to freedom."

Gray's tendency to follow her instincts has been rewarded. On her way to the Ohio River, she spotted a plantation house, and something urged her to venture inside. The woman who owned the house graciously escorted her about. When they reached a particular bedroom, the owner mentioned, matter-of-factly, that it was from this room that "John Parker stole the baby."

To Gray, these words were chilling. A discovery like this one is not unusual for her, but each time, she is just as stunned by it. The story her hostess recounted was familiar to Ohio historians, but not as well-known by others.

At the narrative's center was John Parker, a fugitive slave who had escaped from Kentucky and settled in Ripley, Ohio. Once free, he became an inventor, industrialist and foundry owner. He was also an abolitionist and a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

One night, he was set to guide a husband and wife into the free state of Ohio but found them reluctant to escape. It seemed that their owner was keeping the couple's newborn child in his bedroom, knowing that the parents would not leave without their baby. As the story goes, Parker urged the man and woman to flee, promising to bring their baby to them.

"He crawled along the floor, went to the mistress' side of the bed and grabbed the baby," says Gray. "The master woke up and fired shots, but Parker and the baby were able to escape. He met the couple on the banks and spirited all of them to freedom in Ohio."

By identifying the achievements of men like Parker, as well as the sites of Underground Railroad stations, groups like the Ohio Underground Railroad Association are attempting to shed a clearer, more truthful light upon American slavery and upon the movement that fought against it. In 1998, the diligence of such groups, coupled with the dedicated scholarship and advocacy of historians and preservationists, prompted the U.S. Congress to pass a bill to support programs devoted to the Underground Railroad.

The political process began in 1990, when the National Park Service (NPS) received a congressional mandate to study the Underground Railroad and suggest how it could best be recognized. A committee was formed to review the possibilities.

For five years, experts in the fields of African-American and U.S. history worked with specialists in historic preservation to discuss the identification and protection of Underground Railroad sites and the development of interpretive and commemorative programs. Another goal was the development of a procedural blueprint for the management of important sites, routes and structures. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

There's a Movement Afoot
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.