When St Augustine plays host to the 2012 National Underground Railroad Conference later this month, the National Park Service tells Historic City News reporters that there will be many opportunities for local residents to participate in the five-days of cultural activities.
Volunteers are needed throughout the conference, from June 20 – 24, for exhibit setup, assisting with presentation and registration, and other duties.
The conference theme is the resistance to slavery through escape and flight to and from the South, including through international flight, from the 16th century to the end of the Civil War.
Traditional views of the Underground Railroad focus on Northern destinations of freedom seekers, with symbols such as the North Star, Canada, and the Ohio River (the River Jordan) constructed as the primary beacons of freedom.
This conception reduces the complexity of the Underground Railroad by ignoring the many freedom seekers that sought to obtain their freedom in southern destinations.
Likewise, borders and the movement across them by southern freedom seekers are also very crucial to our understanding of the complexities of the Underground Railroad.
Freedom seekers often sought out political and geographical borderlands, as crossing these locations usually represented the divide between slavery and freedom.
To this end, the conference will explore how southern freedom seekers seized opportunities to escape slavery into Spanish Florida and the Seminole Nation, to the Caribbean Islands, and into the western borderlands of Indian Territory, Texas, and Mexico.
In addition, a few special volunteers will have the opportunity to spend the day with descendants of Underground Railroad participants assisting with their visit to the area. Volunteer timeslots and commitments will vary.
Volunteers will receive training and a special shirt to wear at the conference on Tuesday, June 19 from 10 am – 2 pm. Interested volunteers should contact Autumn Roth 904-829-
6506, ext. 225. The deadline for signing up as a volunteer is June 15, 2012