12 Apr Stories of the Underground Railroad Inspire Novels and Action
Author Colson Whitehead did extensive research on the era of slavery and its legacy in America while writing his acclaimed novel The Underground Railroad, drawing on oral histories from survivors, famous autobiographies, and primary sources such as runaway ads and newspapers. The novel is both historical and speculative, as Whitehead blends history and compresses time to reveal not only the horrors of slavery in the 1850s (when the novel is set), but the pervasive legacy of slavery in America.
History doesn’t have to take the form of fiction to become a story, though: many times, history is divulged, passed down, and preserved as stories truthful to our human perspectives. Here in our own WNY community, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center’s mission is to reveal authentic stories of freedom seekers and abolitionists in Niagara Falls, inspiring visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and take action toward an equitable society.
One of the stories you’ll learn about at the Heritage Center is about the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, a pivotal crossing point for freedom seekers entering Canada. Harriet Tubman herself helped freedom seekers cross here, and the last portion of the original bridge still stands across the street from the Heritage Center.
These stories are essential to remembering and learning from our past, inspiring astonishing novels and inspiring action toward a more just society. If you’d like to hear these stories and visit the site firsthand, join Just Buffalo for a special tour of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center on Saturday, April 30.