The black race has been stereotyped for various stuff both positive and negative; for their bravery in seeking their freedom, despite being aware of the consequences and more. Before the abolishment of the Slave trade, blacks were fearless individuals who struggled for their freedom at cost.
William Still and Harriet Tubman were among these sets of people who helped their kinsmen escape from the hand of its slave master.
During an era when laws prohibiting enslaved Africans and black people in general from studying was still at its peak, William Still managed to self teach himself how to read and write.
Despite having only basic education, he was able to study every material available to him, which eventually became useful for him in the fight against slavery and racism.
While risking his own freedom to help fugitive slaves escape, Still secretly documented the lives and difficulties of the hundreds of fugitive slave he came in contact with. This, however, bought the birth of his popular book in 1872 “The Underground Railroad” which remains the only first-person account of activities on the Underground Railroad that was documented and published by an African American.
The Underground Railroad movement was a large move in North America which consists of several individuals who worked together to assist slaves in the escape from their masters.
The freedom movement started in the 1830s; there were homes, businesses which became known as “stations” in due process, along the route towards the north. These homes became a temporary shelter for fugitives before the resumed the rest of their journey.
Harriet Tubman came into the picture by assisting the enslaved Africans move one station to the other. His role made him to be called “conductor” while Still was known as “station master”.
In 1834, the Underground Railroad expanded to Canada after the latter had outlawed slavery. By the end of 1850, the movement had become an aid to 10,000 slaves escape to freedom.
Most historical accounts are of the opinion that the stories of the movement would have been lost had it not been the works of Still, who recorded the network’s activities.
Born as a free man on October 7, 1821, in Burlington County, New Jersey, Still was the youngest of 18 children. Both of his parents were born into slavery. His mother got her freedom by escaping, though she had to escape twice after she was caught the first time, while his father bought his freedom.
When his mother finally made it through, she had to leave behind two of her children, who were later sold as slaves in the Deep South.
During the 1840s, Still moved to Philadelphia where he first worked as a janitor for the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery (PSAS) before being promoted into the position of clerk.
Starting a coal delivery business, Still became a successful man and an important personality in the black community in Philadelphia. In 1852, he chaired PSAS’s Vigilance Committee, helping fugitive slaves who passed through the city on the Underground Railroad.
His Underground Railroad “station” (home) became a major stop for fugitive slaves who were making their way towards Canada.
Tubman, the “conductor”, usually stopped by his home during her rescue missions. Still supported the slaves with shelter and even funded many of Tubman’s rescue expeditions.
History recorded that, Still rescued around 800 slaves via his work with the Underground Railroad, earning him the aka, “Father of the Underground Railroad.”
Until 1865 when slavery was abolished, Still kept secret of every records of the hundreds of fugitive slaves he came into contact with, including the sacrifices they made to escape slavery. Seven years after the ban of slavery, he published his collected interviews with the runaway slaves in his book The Underground Rail Road. In one of the interviews was of a fugitive slave named Peter who eventually was his own brother.
“Being redirected to the Anti-Slavery Office for instructions as to the best strategy to use in finding the whereabouts of his parents,” Still wrote . “Fortunately, he met his own brother, the writer, whom he had never heard of before, much less seen or known.”
After his first publication, Still hired agents to sell his book, which went through three editions and would be showcase in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition to “remind visitors of the legacy of slavery in the United States.”
Hence, this feat was only achievable through the cooperation of everyone involved to the smallest from the oldest. There was a form of unity and love which reigned among them. Several assertions have been created that blacks usually or found of not wanting his fellow kinsmen grow or progress. This can be showcased vividly that such is only cooked up in other to degrade blacks estimation. Some set of individuals during this era could have sold the rest of the slaves cheap or Still gathering all the 10,000 slaves and selling them for cheap. Its just to tell us black is beyond color.