Apr 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

National Park Service unveils new Underground Railroad sites

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaking at the White House on April 23.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaking at the White House on April 23.

The National Park Service on Friday unveiled 16 additions to its National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.

Why it matters: The program preserves sites connected to the network of havens across the U.S. that offered shelter and aid primarily to enslaved African Americans on their journey to free states and Canada and promotes educational or research programs pertaining to the Underground Railroad.

  • Each of the now 682 listings in the extensive network located in 39 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands provides insights into the experiences of freedom seekers who escaped slavery and the allies who assisted them.

What they're saying: “Today’s announcement reminds us of the dark pages in our history books, but also highlights the incredible strength and resilience of Black communities,” Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. 

  • “We need to look no further than the news of this week to know that our work is not done and commit ourselves to real progress. To do that, we must start by recognizing the history that brought us here," she added.

The big picture: Some of the new listings include:

  • Florida: Fort Barrancas, where freedom seekers and others joined the U.S. Army during the Civil War.
  • Georgia: The Dungeness Plantation on Cumberland Island, where British troops established headquarters during the War of 1812 and promised freedom to the enslaved.
  • Massachusetts: The Lewis and Harriet Hayden House in Boston, where the Hayden family established themselves after they escaped from slavery in Kentucky and contributed to the abolitionist movement and provided food, shelter and clothing to other freedom seekers.

Go deeper: Mellon Foundation grants $1.4 million to MSU for historic slavery database

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