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They resisted slavery with their feet... and some paid the ultimate price.


      KET looks at the fugitive slave movement in the one-hour documentary Kentucky’s Underground Railroad—Passage to Freedom. PBS Award Winner

      Many Kentucky people and sites played fascinating and critical roles in the story of slavery, abolitionism, and the underground railroad. Though no actual railroad existed, the term refers to the escape of enslaved African Americans through secret pathways, both with and without assistance.

      Kentucky’s location on the border of slave and nonslave states and its unique geography as the only state surrounded on three sides by rivers created opportunities for people who were willing to risk their lives to live in freedom, and those willing to risk everything to help them. KET’s documentary tells the following stories and more:


Fugitives Anti-slavery advocates Descendants tell the family histories of fugitives
  • William Wells Brown
  • Margaret Garner
  • Louis Hayden
  • Henry Bibb
  • John Parker
  • Rev. John Rankin
  • Elijah Green
  • John Fee
  • James Birney
  • Delia Webster
  • Calvin Fairbank
  • Cassius M. Clay
  • Josiah Henson
  • Joseph Settles
  • Adam and Sarah Crosswhite

     In addition, the web site contains additional footage, including oral histories passed down in the Turley and the Brown families.

      Teachers who want to use this resource in their classes will find it useful to preview sections of the documentary on the web. Applications to Kentucky’s Core Content for Assessment in Social Studies and Arts and Humanities curricula are in the teacher’s resources section, which includes humanities activities for students using The Last Sale of Slaves, a painting by Kentuckian Thomas S. Noble; the original lyrics of “My Old Kentucky Home”; and other sources.

      A brief history of slavery in Kentucky and timeline are included to provide a historical context for the documentary. In addition, recent research by scholars and lay people is beginning to uncover sources of information that may lead to the documentation of more family stories and historic sites. Search the community research section for opportunities for research and public information grants, as well as steps in the documentation of historic sites.



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Last Updated: Friday, 20-Feb-2009 08:09:39 Eastern Standard Time