African American News and Genealogy

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Freedom trail sites recognized

Sunday, April 09, 2006 By MARY ELLEN SPRINGFIELD - One hundred fifty years ago, Springfield was a small city with a population of just under 14,000. Franklin Pierce was president, the Civil War was five years away, and slavery was legal in the South. At the same time, Springfield had become well-established as a critical link along the Underground Railroad, with key local citizens helping runaway slaves make their way, traveling by night along woodsy paths, to freedom in Canada. The city will soon have trail markers at 13 of those downtown spots where escaped slaves were able to stop, rest and get nourishment and support from supporters, both black and white, who were committed to the cause. "Black people played an important role in the history of this country, and this city. For so many years, there's been this veil of silence," said Cecelia Gross, chairwoman of the history and political science department at Springfield Technical Community College. "It's very important that people remember this," she said. During the past two decades, Gross and her students past and present have been researching the city's role in the movement, and their work will be the cornerstone of the sidewalk history project. The African-American Heritage Trail will be on the streets next year, in time to celebrate STCC's 40th anniversary. Full Story:


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