Governor Cooper Proclaims Sept. 2020 as International Underground Railroad Month

RALEIGH

RALEIGH, N.C. – Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed September 2020 as International Underground Railroad Month in North Carolina. Read the proclamation here

Often called the nation’s first Civil Rights movement, the Underground Railroad included many prominent abolitionists, such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, John Brown, William Still and many others. 

In North Carolina, many former slaves became abolitionists through the Underground Railroad. Among these were Harriet Jacobs of Edenton, a noted feminist who fled enslavement and went into hiding for seven years, and Abraham Galloway, who returned to North Carolina at the beginning of the Civil War and worked as a spy for the Union Army, and later became one of the first Black members of the N.C. Senate. The Underground Railroad in North Carolina used locations such as the Great Dismal Swamp, Elizabeth City, Hatteras Island, Guilford College Woods and Roanoke Island as stops on the path to freedom. 

“Enslaved men and women hid in swamps, woods, and, if they could, the basement or attic of an abolitionist’s home," Cooper said. "We must remember their struggle and the brave people who helped them and honor them by working to make the North Carolina of today a better place for everyone."

The National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom lists 17 North Carolina sites connected to the Underground Railroad. Explore the Network to Freedom sites here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/undergroundrailroad/explore-ugrr-locations.htm 

Included in those sites are Somerset State Historic Site, part of the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Somerset Place in Washington County offers a 75-minute walking tour, "Somerset Place in the New South: From Plantation to State Historic Site, 1865 – Present," the third Saturday of every month at 1 p.m. for a fee of $3 per person. Visitors will learn about the post-Civil War history of Somerset Place, including the demise of slavery, the period after the Collins family's ownership, and the lives of newly freed African Americans. Interpreters will examine how Somerset Place was preserved as a public site and how memories and interpretations of its history changed from the Jim Crow Era to the present. The tour is designed for high school students, college students, and adults. 

Historic Edenton State Historic Site offers historical information on abolitionist Harriet Jacobs, as well as video resources, on its website at https://historicsites.nc.gov/all-sites/historic-edenton

Learn more about the Underground Railroad in North Carolina from NCPedia: https://www.ncpedia.org/underground-railroad.