We work hard today to combat discrimination, promote equality, and protect human dignity. It’s a task that is never truly done, and requires constant diligence. But it is a task that has seen great successes, and our world has been strengthened and improved. So, from our own experiences, it can be hard to comprehend a time in which the law of the land declared African Americans as only three fifths of a person, and a black person could be beaten or killed with impunity for disobedience.
At that time, an attempt at escape represented a risk almost unimaginable in our modern world. Stories of the bravery of slaves risking their lives, and law-breaking abolitionists sheltering them on the ‘Underground Railroad’, are powerful reminders of what equality costs.
It is a story that people of all ages should hear and understand. And we have many resources perfect for a college student – from general books such as Slave Narratives (E444 .S56 2000), Five Slave Narratives; A Compendium (E444 .F52), Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, 1850-1860 by Stanley Campbell, Flight to Freedom: African Runaways and Maroons in the Americas by Alvin Thompson, and On the Edge of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1870 by David G. Smith to books detailing the experiences of specific slaves in their quest to be free, including My Chains Fell Off: William Wells Brown, Fugitive Abolitionist by L.H. Whelchel (E450.B883 W44 1985), Finding Freedom: The Untold Story of Joshua Glover, Runaway Slave by Walter McDonald, Shadrach Minkins: From Fugitive Slave to Citizen by Gary Collison, Pearl: A Failed Slave Escape on the Potomac by Josephine Pacheco, and Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown by Henry Brown himself.
Our databases include articles, diaries, and other primary sources, as well – notably African American History Online, Black Thought and Culture, Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A Transnational Archive, and Sabin America: 1500-1926
We also have materials more appropriate for sharing with children, both in our Children’s Book section, and as free gifts! All through Black History Month, teachers can stop by the library to get a free copy of Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea and Brian Pinkney, to share with the children they instruct. And if you know a teacher, pick up a copy to give to them. Perfect for kids from kindergarten through the third grade, Step-Stomp Stride tells the story of the famous escaped slave and abolitionist in bold, alliterative prose. It can help children understand what slavery meant, and how important it is to take a stand (or a stride) for equality.
And remember, if you have any questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!