Monday, June 15, 2009
Escape On The Pearl

Local history delight

I went on the Escape On The Pearl bus tour hosted by Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Our tour guide was author, Mary Kay Ricks who wrote ESCAPE ON THE PEARL, THE HEROIC BID for FREEDOM on the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. This is the sobering and exciting story of the largest, organized escape on the underground railroad -- aboard the sailing vessel, The Pearl. This is also the personal story of Mary and Emily Edmonson and their family. The Edmonsons were some of the escapees aboard The Pearl. Mary Kay has done extensive research and has uncovered links to important individuals involved in the escape and several of the oldest African American congregations in Washington and Georgetown. Carter Bowman, archivist of Mt. Zion Church was on the bus as were many other local history experts and buffs. Here are some pictures of the day:

We visited Asbury Methodist Church. Several participants in the Pearl escape were members/founders of this congregation.

at its peak, Franklin and Armfield, a.k.a. the Alexandria Slave Pen, was transporting 1,800 slaves a year to the cotton plantations of Louisiana and Mississippi. for more info on this:

The Northern Virginia Urban League moved into this house in 1996 and has dedicated the site to Rev. Lewis Henry Bailey, a former slave who was sold through the pen to a family in Texas.

our mentor, Carter Bowman, archivist of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in a quiet moment in the Mt. Zion/Female Union Band Cemetary

Janet Ricks, head of the history committee at Mt. Zion leads us through the Mt. Zion/Female Union Band Cemetary.

Beth Taylor, my bus seat partner, is the Director of Education at James Madison's Montpelier. She's researching Paul Jennings, who was enslaved to President and Mrs. Madison.

Mary Kay Ricks talks about Alfred Pope, one of the escapees on The Pearl and a trustee of Mt. Zion Church. After his adventures on The Pearl, Pope built significant wealth through his rag-picking/waste disposal business. He contributed real estate and finance for the building of Mt. Zion Church. Alfred Pope later married Hannah, one of the slaves of Martha and Thomas Peter, who built Tudor House in Georgetown. See previous post regarding my visit to Tudor House.

Posted at 11:19 am by Tourmaline


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Onward only! I can't turn back and I won't turn around.

Celebrating eleven years of swimming!

stroking onward and upward
swimming for the wall 2010

“Centuries later historians would ridicule as a numbers game attempts to count the millions forced to suffer the trauma of the transatlantic passage. Yet for those who witnessed the murderous raids by Arabs, Europeans, or hostile black Africans upon their communities, for those who were discarded on their march to the African coast, for those who were banned to the hold of the ships, for those whose bodies were cast overboard, for those who made it to the unknown on the other side of the ocean, every single one mattered. For every single woman, every single man represented the difference between life and death, between the "I am" and chattel, between history and the void, between the voice and silence. For every single one defined the whole.”

from Black Imagination and the Middle Passage by Maria Diedrich, Henry Louis Gates, Carl Pedersen

“As you were speaking this morning of little children, I was looking around and thinking it was most beautiful. But I have had children and yet never owned one, no one ever owned one; and of such there's millions -- who goes to teach them? You have teachers for your children but who will teach the poor slave children?
I want to know what has become of the love I ought to have for my children? I did have love for them, but what has become of it? I cannot tell you. I have had two husbands but I never possessed one of my own. I have had five children and never could take one of them up and say, 'My child' or 'My children,' unless it was when no one could see me.
I believe in Jesus, and I was forty years a slave but I did not know how dear to me was my posterity. I was so beclouded and crushed. But how good and wise is God, for if the slaves knowed what their true condition was, it would be more than the mind could bear. While the race is sold of all their rights -- what is there on God's footstool to bring them up? Has not God given to all his creatures the same rights? How could I travel and live and speak? When I had not got something to bear me up, when I've been robbed of all my affections for husband and children.
My mother said when we were sold, we must ask God to make our masters good, and I asked who He was. She told me, He sit up in the sky. When I was sold, I had a severe, hard master, and I was tied up in the barn and whipped. Oh! Till the blood run down the floor and I asked God, why don't you come and relieve me -- if I was you and you'se tied up so, I'd do it for you.”

Sojourner Truth, 1856

This text of her address was recorded by the acting secretary of the Friends of Human Progress Association of Michigan, Thomas Chandler, and published in the Anti-Slavery Bugle

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