Monday, July 28, 2003

They walk each step to freedom

Underground Railroad retraced

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The "Footsteps to Freedom" tour will walk through Cincinnati today, starting at 8:45 a.m. at the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County downtown.

The tour involves 25 teachers from the San Bernardino County Schools and community representatives from the Inland Empire region of Southern California. They are retracing the footsteps of enslaved people as an educational tour of the Underground Railroad that will last through Sunday.The group will be met by Joyce Coleman of Paddock Hills, who conducts Underground Railroad tours from Cincinnati.

"I plan to take them on a brief tour here, which will include the site of the Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum, the grave sites of Levi Coffin and John Van Sandt, both abolitionists," Coleman said. She said little is known of Van Sandt's role as an abolitionist.

"He was a former slave owner who, after he became converted, brought his slaves to Ohio and set them free," Coleman said. Coffin, a Quaker, was president of the Underground Railroad in Cincinnati.

Cheryl Brown, who organized the tour, said it is used as a classroom resource and instructional tool.

"The experience will enable teachers to bring back firsthand knowledge about the Underground Railroad, a fundamental American history story, to students in their classrooms," Brown said.

She said the tour includes stops in Ripley and Maysville. They will travel from Columbus to Canada, with stops in Michigan and New York, following the route that enslaved people took in their quest for freedom. from the 1830s to 1865.

In western New York, the group will showcase the life of three historical figures of the 19th century and their involvement in the Underground Railroad: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony.

The tour is sponsored by the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, the Black Voice Foundation, California State University, National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and Riverside County Office of Education.



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