Evaluation Responses:

 

“Excellent--Invigorating—Informative--Enjoyable--Invaluable Information & Contacts”

 

Report

 

on

 

Bound For Glory on the Bayou Underground Railroad Gathering

 

Runaways!   Maroons!      Contraband!

 

November 6-8, 2003 Marriott Hotel Baton Rouge, Louisiana

 

IT WAS JUST THE BEGINNING!

 

The above selected evaluation response captions summarizes the impact of the 1st historical, great, and successful Bound For Glory on the Bayou Underground Railroad Gathering (BGBUGRR Gathering) conducted in Baton Rouge Louisiana November 6, 7, 8, 2003.

 

RECAPITULATIONS:

 

Under the auspices of the Southeast Region National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program (NUGRRNF Program), lead community based organization, Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society, Inc Natchez, Mississippi, along with co-leading River Road African American Museum, Donaldsonville, Louisiana and in conjunction with Natchez National Historical Park, Vicksburg U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and other community organizations and representatives from Vicksburg to New Orleans, participated in meetings up and down the Mississippi River planning the BGBUGRR Gathering.

 

Southeast Region National Park Service NUGRRNF Program’s Charge

 

Based upon the Southeast Region National Park Service NUGRRNF Program Coordinator Barbara Tagger’s, directions, the planners and organizers of the “Gathering” in the southwest portion of the Region had to:

 

  1. Choose an attention getting theme.
  2. Limit the Gathering topics to two or three that could be done well, thereby creating a successful event that could be funded again in some upcoming time.
  3. Involve other National Park Service units and partnering agencies in the southwest portion of the Region.
  4. Have community based professional present vs. heavy on the academic presenters.
  5. Attract community level participants.
  6. Inform the local community about the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. Have them learn about their local Underground Railroad associations/partners/Network sites and have them learn of places in the Southwest portion of the Region that could be commemorated and or preserved.

 

Thanks to All!            The Mission Was Very Successfully Accomplish!

 

  1. Theme:

 

Bound For Glory = (K. Hambrick). On the Bayou = (Heter-Boxley)

UGRR Gathering = (B. Tagger)

 

  1. Topics:

 

Runaways!             Maroons!                      Contraband!

 

BGBUGRR Gathering program presenters and topics addressed these topics as follows:

 

During the Friends of the Forks of the Roads 8th Annual Forks of the Roads Kommemoration Libation Ceremony Reception, Thom Rosenblum of Natchez National Historical Park, National Park Service presented excerpts from his recent intensive research about Franklin and Armfield enslavement trafficking company and founders of the Forks of the Roads enslavement sale market. This company was the kingpin dealers from the 1830s to mid 1840s. Go to the Forks of the Road Home Page and read about them. Their upper south buying headquarters was 1315 Duke Street Alexandria, Virginia. The building is still in existence today and is owned by the Urban League of Northern Virginia.

 

Kathe Hambrick, founder and director, River Road African American Museum, Donaldsonville, Louisiana showed attendees images of and told the story about Freedom’s Journey in South Louisiana.

 

Marquetta Goodwine, Queen/Priestess of the Gullahgeeche Nation St. Helena Islands, South Carolina told the BGBUGRR Gathering as she dramatically imparted wisdom while moving through the audience, “our people were not slaves, they were enslaved.” 

 

Arkansas born and raised Bruce Barnes, Park Ranger, National Park Service New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park used traditional African institutional music of drumming and song to demonstrate songs and secret communication tools passed down from his grandfather, who was enslaved and active in Underground Railroad freedom like efforts at the Northern Louisiana and Southern Arkansas border. He informed the Gathering that even in contemporary times, African descendants had to be smuggled out of share cropping racial oppression and bondage in the area. 

 

In Jackson Louisiana, Edna Jordan Smith Founder of Afro-Louisiana Historical & Genealogical Society Inc. and Tour Conductor to Buxton Canada guided BGBUGRR Gathering participants to sites related to Rev. William King conducting 15 enslaved persons from Jackson Louisiana to found Buxton Canada “a heaven” for enslaved fugitives.

 

{A Supplement Added by Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley}

 

The 15 enslaved pioneer co-founders of Buxton, Canada, for whom our Bound For Glory Gathering living history tour to their Jackson Louisiana slavery grounds to learn about where: Amelia, Ben (Phares), Eliza, Emeline (Phares), Fanny, Harriet, Isaiah (Phares), Jacob (King), Mollie, Peter (King), Robin, Sarah, Stephen (Phares), Solomon and Talbert (King).

( ) = Took on the last name of their enslaver, John Phares who is buried in Jackson, Louisiana and Rev. William King.

 

“FUGITIVE SLAVES IN CANADA.

 

ELGIN SETTLEMENT.

 

There are upwards of 30,000 coloured persons in Canada, mostly fugitives from the United States. Their numbers are increasing rapidly by the operation of the Fugitive Slave Law, which gives them no resting place till they reach Canada, where they generally arrive in a destitute conditions, stripped of everything but life. The occasion of the Elgin Settlement, being formed for their social and moral improvement, was this: The REV. WILLIAM KING having become heir to a number of slaves in Louisiana, set them free as soon as they came into his possession, paid their passage, and accompanied them to Canada, a distance of 1500 miles. On his arrival he found the fugitives in that degraded condition in which slavery had left them, most of them without a home and without a friend, and for whose soul no man cared. An appeal was made to the Christian community on their behalf, which was responded to by the friends of the slave there. An Association was formed, under the patronage of Lord Elgin, then Governor-General, which was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1850, under the title of the Elgin Association. Mr. King was chosen unanimously to superintend the Settlement. Eighteen thousand dollars were subscribed, and nine thousand acres of land secured from Government in the Township of Raleigh, and County of Kent. Those lands were divided into farms of fifty acres each, and given to coloured settlers at a nominal price. One of the objects contemplated by this effort was to show by practical experiment that the coloured man, when placed in favourable circumstances, could support himself by his own industry, and to refute the charge brought against him by the pro-slavery party in the United States, that he would not support himself when set free. On these lands upwards of two hundred families are now settled, supporting themselves by their own industry. Lord Althorp, now Earl Spencer, of England, who visited the Settlement in 1857, and Professor Gibson of Belfast, and the Rev. William M’Lure of Londonderry, who spent two days, in 1858, in visiting the Settlement, speak favourable of their improvement. The Rev. Dr. Burns and Dr. Willis of Toronto are Vice-Presidents of the Elgin Association, and frequently visit the Settlement. They also testify to the success of the experiment, and the industry of the settlers. On these land a church has been erected, to supply the adult population with the means of grace; and schools have been established, to give the children a good education. These schools are now attended by upwards of one hundred pupils. The number would be greatly increased by enlarging the accommodation, and erecting permanent buildings.

Front page of the leaflet King wrote and distributed during his tour of England, Scotland and Ireland

[Extracted from Look to the North Star, A Life of William King by Victory Ullman page 203]

 

At Port Hudson Civil War State Commemorative Park, staff persons Gregg Potts and Michael Fraering informed participants about the history of the Civil War battle at Port Hudson on May 26, 27, 28,1863. Attendees viewed an educational video showing of the Battle and toured various displays including one section showing the charge of the 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guard Troops African Descent. The 3rd Louisiana Native Guard was organized from contraband runaways.  Attendees also toured the geophysical area where runaway contraband Union Army soldiers fought the “Civil War” battle proving “Blacks” would fight their enslavers. They heard how Runaway Contraband won the Civil War Battle of Milliken’s Bend Louisiana June 6, 7, 8, 1863, while protecting General U. S. Grant’s back. They joined Patrick Shell, Natchez Traceparkway Law Enforcement Ranger, Eric Walker, Port Hudson Interpretive Ranger and Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley, Coordinator of Fort McPherson/Forks of Roads Sons and Daughters of U. S. Colored Troops in making a forgotten offering gun salute to the memory and legacy of the freedom fighting deeds of African descendants at Port Hudson and Milliken’s Bend. Shell, Boxley and Walker were dressed in U. S. C. T. Civil War period uniforms.

 

At Blue Bonnet Swamp and Nature Center Charles (Chuck) E. Siler Programs Curator Louisiana State Museum, presented an analysis of the swamp culture of enslaved Runaways, Maroons and First Nations and the geophysical environment they inhabited. He told the Gathering about the Maroon military leader St. Malo, whose territory of operation ranged from what is now lower Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, St. John The Baptist, St. Charles, Orleans’ lower coast, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes. Most of these surround Lake Pontchartrain. Accordantly, St Malo was the best known of the Maroons mentioned (however briefly) in Louisiana history. “St. Malo and his band of fighting men struck terror in the hearts of white slave owners for nearly 40 years before he was finally captured and executed in the mid-1800s.” Wrote the Jackson Advocate Reporter, Earnest McBride quoting Siler. 

Actor Spencer Howard, in period dress, portrayed enslaved escapee Tom Wilson during the Gathering’s interactive swamp tour. (Google Tom Wilson narrative)

 

Elaine Turner, owner of Heritage Tours and the Slave Heaven Underground Railroad’s Jacob Burkle House Museum since 1983 in Memphis Tennessee, explained the history and story of how Jacob Burkle used the house as an Underground Railroad stop and station for conducting escaping runaways out to the Mississippi River. She presented the features of her museum now housed in the house and showed old newspaper accounts of one of Memphis’s largest enslavement traffickers, Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the KKK and leader of the Confederate Army who murdered “Black” Union Army Colored Troops at Fort Pillow.  

 

Leon Waters, Co-Chief Officer of Louisiana African American History Alliance and Annual Commemorators of the 1811 “Slave” Revolt along River Road and “On to New Orleans,” presented an unheard of and crowd stunning story and history of Louisiana’s 1811 “Slave” Revolt, the largest enslavement revolt in the history of the USA. “Most revealing of all was the presentation of Leon Waters of the 1811 Louisiana slave revolt, largest to take place in the United States, but one that has never been written about in any of the school history books. Over 500 black fighters, men and women, organized an army that was determined to seize New Orleans in January 1811.” Comparing the New Orleans revolt with the Boston Massacre, in which only three people were killed, Waters said that over 65 people were killed in New Orleans. Kenner Airport in New Orleans is on 700 acres of the battlefield of 1811,” wrote Earnest McBride reporter for the Jackson Mississippi Advocate.

Actually, the heroes/sheroes of the 1811 Louisiana “Slave” Revolt were killed in the up River Parishes along River Road. Many of their heads were hung on poles along River Road. Others were hung in New Orleans and a few of their heads were hung on poles in the Cabildo area adjoining Congo Square.

Next time you fly to New Orleans for the orgy called Madi Gras, or Sugar Bowl football (commemorating sugar bowl wealth made on the backs of worked to death enslaved Ancestors) or whatever fun you look forward to and you exist the airport in Kenner, start making forgotten offerings from there all the way to Congo Square and all that jazz and mumbo gumbo.  

 

Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley of Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society and Southwest Mississippi-Central Louisiana Underground Railroad Association Natchez, provided the Gathering with an overview of the contents of his findings included in his ongoing National Park Service NUGRRNF Program funded research project: Proving the Mississippi River a Major Underground Railroad Uhuru (freedom) Route From Memphis to the Gulf of Mexico. His research subjects included escapes, runaways, maroons, uprisings, revolts, rebellions, resistance, defiance, conspiracies, Seminoles and Uncivil War double victories, etc. on and along the Mississippi River.

Ser Boxley chanted to the Gathering audience that his research compilations will kill the happy, obedient, submissive, docile, satisfied, loyal, doomed to enslavement for life and could not escape from slavery in the Deep South myth. The compilations will kill the ragged clothed, starving, unskilled, and illiterate, mostly field hands; contented house-Negroes and only males would runaway myth.

 

Stacy Allen, Supervisory (Chief) Park Ranger, National Park Service Shiloh National Military Park Tennessee presented an outstanding report on the progress being made to develop the historical Corinth Mississippi Civil War Era Contraband Campgrounds into an African American National Park. He explained the unique research and cross-referencing method used to identify African descendant Contraband inhabitants who were housed at Corinth campgrounds, as well where the camp was located. The beauty of the methods used can be appreciated in that the African descendants at Corinth’s Contraband Camp were removed to Memphis, Tennessee, during the Civil War and left behind very little clues as to who they were and where their camp was located.

Perhaps the Corinth research model can be used to locate other unknown locations of Contraband camps throughout America.  

 

Susan B. Hawkins, Park Ranger, National Park Service Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Tennessee showed the Gathering pictures of weapons and portions of the Civil War battlefield that have been preserved and now used to help interpret the legacy of Union Army Freedom Fighting U. S. Colored Troops. Fort Donelson is a National Park Service NUGRRNF Program site.

 

U S Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg. Background historic research conducted as partial fulfillment of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District's mitigation requirements for the Natchez Bluffs Stabilization Project, Adams County, Mississippi, by Robert Cassanello, Ph.D. through a contract with Miles College, Birmingham Alabama, was summarized and discussed in presentations by Mr. James Wojtala, Vicksburg District, and Ms. Pamela King, and Ms. Tiffany Lollar, both with Miles College.  Mr. Wojtala described the Vicksburg District's involvement in the project and its role as Network Partner to the National Park Service's Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program.  The presentations by Ms. King and Ms. Lollar is entitled "Runaways, Truants and Slave Resistance in Natchez, Mississippi 1800 -1863.  Ms. Lollar discussed insights into the social and political history of slavery and resistance. Ms. King provided her research orientation and objectives, described documentation and resources utilized in the study, and presented correlations between various events and geographic locations within Natchez and the project environs. 

Most important to this report writer was Pam King’s statement to the Gathering to the effect, that in Natchez, they don’t want to talk about slavery.

 

Joan M. Exnicos, New Orleans U S Army Corps of Engineers was very ill and could not attend to present the Geophysical Environments, Locations, and Maps of Maroon Communities and Runaway Refuse.

Joan has been asked by Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley to submit a written report covering what she would have presented at the Gathering. This includes any maps or graphics she has available from her studies of maroon communities in the New Orleans area.

 

  1. Involvement of National Park Service Units:

 

*Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Tennessee, *Vicksburg National Military Park, *Natchez National Historical Park, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and *Natchez Traceparkway helped accomplish the mission.

 

*  =   Presenters and or fiscal contributor.

 

Other Agencies Partnering:

 

**Georgetown College Underground Railroad Research Institute of Kentucky, **Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society, Inc of Mississippi, **River Road African American Museum of Louisiana, Vicksburg U. S. Army Corp of Engineers, Mississippi, New Orleans U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisiana, Port Hudson Civil War State Commemorative Park, Louisiana, Bluebonnet Swamp and Nature Center, Louisiana, **New Orleans Multiculturalism Tourism Network, Louisiana, all helped accomplish the mission.

 

**  = Presenters and or fiscal contributor.

 

  1. Community Based Professional Presenters:

 

Elaine Turner, Tennessee, Chuck Siler, Louisiana, Edna Jordan Smith, Louisiana, Kathy Hambrick, Louisiana, Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley, Mississippi, Leon Waters, Louisiana, Bruce Barnes, Arkansas-Louisiana, Queen Quet, Marquetta Goodwine, South Carolina, Laini Kuumba Ngoma Troupe, Louisiana, Actor Spencer Howard, Louisiana, all filled the bill.

 

And

 

Special Presentations:

 

Hari Jones, from the National Black Civil War Museum, Washington, D. C., electrified the Gathering with a magnificent rendition of his poem dedicated to the legacy of Union Army Freedom Fighters of African decent.

 

As if she was sent by Harriet Tubman, unannounced and appearing out of no where, Actress Vivian Abdur-Rahim, as Harriet Tubman, set the stage for the Gathering with a fantastic, soul stirring and spiritual uplifting performance.

 

Carolyn Ann Smith Williams Founder/Director The Quilted History a Tapestry of African-American History erected an exhibition that gained for her the warmest and a most thankful welcome from the Gathering attendees over the three days. In fact, she said the Marriott Hotel management invited her to return for a showing at the Hotel at another time coming. In Arkansas, she can be reached at 870-881-0443.

 

  1. Local Community Based Attendance:

 

People came from all over the United States. Highly present were people from: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville, Lafayette, Vidalia and Ferriday Louisiana, Vicksburg, Jackson, Port Gipson, Hermanville, Pattison, Brookhaven and Natchez Mississippi. California, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Atlanta, Ga; Wilmington, De; Omaha, Ne; Washington D. C. and Canada were in the house at the BGBUGRR Gathering.

 

  1. Informing The Local Community About The National Underground Network To Freedom Program.

 

National Park Service Southeast Region’s Paul Hartwig, Associate Regional Director, Cultural Resources, Don Wollenhauppt, Chief Interpretation & Education, Barbara Tagger, National Park Service Southeast Region, Coordinator of National Park Service NUGRRNF Program, Diane Miller, National Coordinator, National Park Service NUGRRNF Program, Kathe Hambrick, Director/Founder of River Road African American Museum, Donaldsonville, La., Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley, Founder/Coordinator of Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society, Inc., Natchez, Ms., Elaine Turner, owner of Heritage Tours and the Slave Heaven Underground Railroad’s Jacob Burkle House Museum, Memphis Tn., Stacy Allen, Supervisory (Chief) Park Ranger, National Park Service Shiloh National Military Park Tn., Susan B. Hawkins, Park Ranger, National Park Service Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Tn., and Thom Rosenblum National Park Service Natchez National Historical Park, all made presentations about NUGRRNF Program Sites now included in the Network to Freedom Program and are available for viewing on the National Park Service Website at: www.cr.nps.gov/ugrr

 

Specifically, Barbara Tagger told the Gathering that “it was mainly due to the research and work of local groups like the Friends of the Forks of the Road Society and the River Road African American Museum that has allowed us at the Park Service to create the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom,” wrote Earnest McBride of the Jackson Advocate.

 

NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NETWORK TO FREEDOM PROGRAM

(MISSION STATEMENT)

 

Recognizing that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression, the historical Underground Railroad (UGRR) sought to address the injustices of slavery and make freedom a reality in the United States. The National Park Service, through leadership with local, state, and federal entities as well as interested individuals and organizations will:

 

Promote programs and partnerships to commemorate, preserve, sites, and other resources associated with and educate the public about the historical significance of the Underground Railroad.

 

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program (“the Network”) tells the story of resistance against the institution of slavery in the United States through escape and flight. The National Park Service (NPS), through the Network, is coordinating preservation and education efforts nationwide, and is working to integrate local historical sites, museums, and interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad into a mosaic of community, regional, and national stories.

 

For additional information on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, please visit the website: www.cr.nps.gov/ugrr

 

SPECIAL EVENTS

 

RECEPTIONS

 

Thursday Afternoon:

 

A busload of Mississippi and Louisiana residents joined members of Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society Inc. and Southwest Mississippi-Central Louisiana Underground Railroad Association and left Natchez Bound For Glory on the Bound Gathering. On the way down, they visited Port Hudson Civil War State Commemorative Park, Southern University’s Museum of Art, enjoyed dinner in the University’s dining hall, rebounded on the freedom train and rolled right on down to the “Gathering.”  

Ralph Jennings, Co-Coordinator of Friends of the Forks Society organized this excursion and reports that folk were impressed and made aware of history they never knew was lying right by the highway they had traveled for years and never stopped to visit.

 

Thursday Night:

 

Thurday night November 6, 2003, the Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society Inc. jump started the BGBUGRR Gathering with its Eight Annual Forks of the Roads Ancestral Kommemoration- Libation Reception and Awards Ceremony hosted by Kentucky’s Georgetown College Underground Railroad Research Institute. The program was a celebration of Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley’s led advocacy campaign to publicly preserve the historical Forks of the Roads Enslavement market sites in Natchez, Mississippi. In June of 2003, one of the two historical “Negro Mart” sites at the Forks of the Roads was purchased by the City of Natchez with a State of Mississippi special legislative appropriation.

Presentation of awards were given to State Rep. Phillip West, Natchez Alderpersons Ricky Gray and Joyce Arceneaux, and Adams County Supervisor Darryl Grennell for their political action along the way leading to the City of Natchez purchasing the site.

Mary Magnolia’s Bed and Breakfast was presented an award for being the first “Black” bed and breakfast in Mississippi’s tourism industry. She has since closed her business and returned to California.

The Forks of the Roads speaks of America’s internal long distance enslavement trafficking from the Eastern Seaboard and Mid West states to the lower south, as well as the economic, political, social, cultural and religious growth of king cotton and queen sugar bowls lower south cities and states.   

 

Friday Night:

 

Friday night November 7, 2003, An African Culture Retention in Louisiana, Arkansas and St. Helena Island South Carolina Reception was sponsored by National Park Service’s Vicksburg National Military Park and BGBUGRR Gathering attendees were educated and entertained through performances by:

 

Queen Quet, Priestess and Queen Mother of Gullah-Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Inc. who offered Libation and performed a Spiritual dance of unforgotten offering to “give honor and homage to those who came before us.”  

This report writer added the following quote to farther amplify our Ancestral spiritual work in the deep south: “to afford the ancestors all of the dignity and stature that they and their descendants deserve” to quote James M. Blount, Publisher of About Time Magazine in his December 2003 issue referring to the struggle to make forgotten offerings at the African Burial Grounds in New York City.

 

Next, Bruce Barnes, from Arkansas, former National Football League player, now National Park Service New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park Ranger and Sun Pie Records recording artist, treated the audience to a lovely sample of a local Afrobonic language called “Tut.” He learned this language from his elders in Arkansas. Bruce is looking for others who can still speak Tut to keep this Africanized heritage alive. Contact him at the NO Jazz Park.

 

“We Gon Turn This Motha Out!”

 

“Queen Mother Suma Diarra brought a group of young dancers, the Laini Kuumba Ngoma Troupe, Inc, --led by her daughter, Afuaw Diarra – from New Orleans to perform dances that reportedly have been lost to history. These included the famous Bamboula, the music of which has been written by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Afro-English Composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and modern black composer Hershey Kay, recently deceased.” Wrote Earnest McBride of the Jackson Advocate.

Laini Kuumba Ngoma Troupe of New Orleans turned out the reception with performances, songs, chants and dances descending directly from Africa and continued as spiritual and social healing tools enabling African descendants in the Americas to endure, survive and resist enslavement and dehumanizing plantation mind conditioning regardless of the skin coloration of the enslavers. These same African spiritual and social healing institutional tools also helped African descendants to endure, survive and resist Jim Crow and the white supremacy racism birthed out of the “slavery” system then, through today.

Queen Mother Suma Diarra of the Troupe told the Gathering during the their performance “our ancestors are so angry with us because we use another culture and not the one they tried to pass down to us.” Wrote Earnest McBride of the Jackson Advocate.

“Aluta Continua! And the struggle continues.”   

 

EXHIBITS:

 

The National Park Service NUGRRNF Program funded African/European Roots of the Underground Railroad Traveling Exhibit by Southwest Mississippi-Central Louisiana Underground Railroad Association, an action arm of Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society, Inc. The essential story of the exhibit focuses viewers toward understanding that African people had always traditionally been free and independent (independent means not needing anything from strangers outside of Africa). Also, that they resisted Arabians and Europeans from the very beginning of their invasions and intrusions into Africa and continued to resist captivity during the Middle Passage. When the first Africans set foot upon the Americas in captivity, their inherent resistance and struggle for their traditional freedom and independence was transferred to America and the struggle continues.

The exhibit is currently showing at the Louisiana African American Museum on the second floor of St. Augustine Church New Orleans. It is available for rental. Contact: forksyaroad@aol.com

 

“Black” Union Army Civil War Freedom Fighters Along the Mississippi River by Fort McPherson/Forks of the Roads Sons and Daughters of U. S. Colored Troops Chapter, an action arm of Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society, Inc. The exhibit showed sketches and drawing of Union Army “Black” Civil War Freedom Fighting soldiers in various situations along the Mississippi River from Memphis to New Orleans during the Civil War.

 

Freedom Stories in the River Parishes by River Road African American Museum. The exhibit showed images such as the Baton Rouge Union Army contraband camp during the Civil War and other south Louisiana situations reflecting African descendants’ and freedom.

 

National Black Civil War Museum Collection by Hari Jones who exhibited reproductions of rare Civil War scenes depicting Union Army Freedom Fighters of African decent and designer T-shirts that were given away to attendees for various responses to questions about the legacy of U. S. C. T. actions during the Civil War.

 

The Quilted History A Tapestry of African-American History by Ms. Carolyn Ann Smith Williams Founder and Executive Director. This exhibit showed artifacts pre-dating 1763. Artifacts were collected from South Arkansas and Northern Louisiana. “The exhibit draws upon one’s sense of hearing, smell, sight, and touch. Through this interactive approach, The Quilted History has gained national recognition for its provocative and educational impact.”

 

Ancestral Libations

 

Thursday Night

 

Members of New Orleans Ausar Auset Society Community, Kaba Ku Ra Kher Nu (Kelvin Thomas) and Sa-t Ua Maat (Olayeela) along with Ser Seshs Ab Heter (Clifford Boxley) summoned the Ancestral Spirit embodied in those persons once enslaved in the lower south, but whose Spirit was never enslaved (You cannot enslave Spirit but can allow dark or light Spirit to manifest). They offered an unforgotten libation beginning in the tradition of Ancient Khemit, Anetch Hrak Neter! (4,000 miles long Nile Valley cultures) and ended in the West African Yoruba tradition of Ashe!

 

Friday Night

 

Queen Quet, Priestess and Queen Mother of Gullah-Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Inc. made an unforgotten Libation offering uniting the Spirit of Ancestors who remained back on places of enslavement in the other Americas, along the Atlanta Seaboard and Midwestern States, with the Spirit of their relatives and friends who were forced brought by the thousands to the lower South to build the king cotton and queen sugar bowls economic, political, social, cultural and religious societies so commemorated today as if they were not built upon “slavery.”

 

A Presenter and a Participant Statement About the Bound For Glory on the Bayou Underground Railroad Gathering

 

Edna Jordan Smith Presenter:

 

“Mr. B, allow me to congratulate you on such a wonderful activity that you pulled together. It was absolutely superb! Everybody was impressed, and learned so much.”

 

Mildred Bailey Participant:

 

“Ladies and Gentleman. I wish to commend you on the excellent job you and all contributing persons and groups did in planning and implementing the Bound For Glory on the Bayou Conference November 4-6 (6-8 really). I learned so much more about the Underground Railroad. I could see the roads converging as several presenters made reference to at the Underground Railroad Summit in Georgetown, Ky September 4-6, 2003. Having attended both conferences, I can tell you I have been overwhelmed at the depth and richness of presenters and the quality of their research.

I am the director of the Governor’s Minority College Awareness Program at the University of Kentucky, which is an early intervention program focused on preparing African American and other underrepresented minorities for success in post-secondary education institutions. We have a very active parent component that plans cultural and social activities for the students. One of the programs that became an annual event, now in its 9th year, is the MCAP African American Expo that is held in February. Each year we focus on a different theme. So far we have done Blues and Jazz Performers, Scientists and Inventors, Baseball, Thoroughbred Industry, and Law and Law Enforcement. The 2004 theme is The Underground Railroad. That was why I felt both conferences were so significant for me. I will be better able to aid my students in research.

There was an aura of good, strong intervention of the spirit of the ancestors as so many people stepped forward to offer their services to further assure the success of the conference. Your hospitality was out of this world. You made everyone feel so warm and welcome.

The members of the National Park Service Staff that were present were indeed helpful and supportative. Having gained more knowledge, I can personally be a better advocate for preservation of all significant African American history. I have been inspired to continue my research, so I know I will be in touch with each of you in the future.

I reported on the conference in our monthly cabinet meeting in the Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs and everyone was impressed with what you were able to do. {skip}

Bound for Glory was so much more than I expected. I would like to see a longer conference with a chance to visit some of the plantations and maybe a trip to New Orleans.

I am excited, blessed and looking forward to a continued relationship with you as we work together to join all of the links in the Underground Railroad throughout this country and beyond. Right now the map does not look as much like a spider’s web as it will when we are able to document a lot more of the movement to and fro of those seeking freedom on their own and those assisting others.

God bless and keep you and may you always work toward the documentation of a history that has been obscured far too long.”

( ) = Report writer.

 

A PHOTOGRAPHIC GALLERY of the BOUND FOR GLORY UNDERGROUND RAILROAD GATHERING 

 

Photographs credit: Mildred Bailey and Earnest McBride and Sarah Dave.

 

Note: Certain people names do not appear with their photographic image in various pictures because this report writer did not have a chance to learn their identity during the Gathering. Your forgiveness is humbly begged.

 

Photographs coming soon!

 

 

Other Contributors

 

Eight Annual Forks of the Roads Celebration contributors were:

 

In Natchez Mississippi, Miss-Lou OB/GYN Center, H. I. Cappy Stahlman, Sanders Law Firm, Trinity Episcopal Church, Entergy Natchez, Marion Vines Adams County Circuit Court Clerk, LaFiesta Grande Restaurante Mexicano, J. M. Jones Lumber Company, Broadmoor Utilities, Callon Oil Company, Lee Travels and January Printing.

 

River Road African American Museum At the Gathering Workers:

 

Leanna Muse, Lenny Sloan, Leslie Starks and Harold Hambrick.

 

Living History Tour Bus Company:

 

Catherine Moore of M and J Tours

 

In-house Reporter:

 

Earnest McBride, Jackson Mississippi Advocate.

 

Extract from Earnest McBride’s article about the Gathering:

 

“This was not the textbook variety of the Underground Railroad that provided black captives in America a means of escaping the frequently inhuman misery of their captivity. The gathering here has gone far beyond the well-known adventures of Harriet Tubman, the black Joan of Arc, or Moses in some accounts, or the lesser known efforts of Quaker Thomas Garrett of Delaware, known as the white Moses to many of the 2,000 blacks he helped to escape slavery.”

 

“Many new vistas on the almost universal resistance to slavery were presented last week, ranging from the blending of African and Native American resistance to form a new tribe known as the Seminoles, to individual or small groups escapes, or to an entire community of black freedom moving from early 19th Century Louisiana to the still-thriving community of Buxton, Canada.”

 

“One of the most lasting impressions the 300 or so people attending the three-day convocation on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom here was the unrelenting spirit of resistance displayed by the black African captives from the dawning of the New World up to the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation and beyond.”

Extracted from the Jackson Advocate dated November 13-19, 2003.

 

In-house Photography:

 

Mildred Bailey, University of Kentucky

 

In-house Video

 

C. Smith-Brown (Mayimuna) Baton Rouge

 

A limited edition of Commemorative T-Shirts with New Orleans Ashe Cultural Center’s Doug Redd artistic design for the Bound For Glory on the Bayou Underground Railroad Gathering are still available. They were developed as a fund-raiser to help offset the Friends of the Forks of the Roads expenses for the Gathering. There remains $500 in unpaid expenses.

 

To order a T-Shirt: 

Send a contribution of $20.00 in a money order made to the order of Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society or you can make a tax-deductible donation.

Send to: P. O. Box 2188 Natchez, Ms. 39121. This contribution includes shipping and handling cost.

 

Asante sana (Thank you very much)

 

 

THIS REPORT IS NOT LATE

THE BOUND FOR GLORY ON THE BAYOU UNDERGROUND RAILROAD GATHERING

WAS JUST THE BEGINNING

 

LOOK OUT FOR FOLLOW UP PROJECTS

 

Prepared and submitted by: Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley, Lead Planner and Organizer of the Gathering.

 

 

RETURN TO FORKS OF THE ROADS