Detroit was a major stop on the Underground Railroad, the secret network of abolitionists and pathways that worked to liberate enslaved people in antebellum America. Not only was Detroit the only major city that offered fugitives a short trip south into Canada, it also boasted powerful allies in the fight for individual freedom.
One of the greatest tools of communication during the period was music. With music one could pass along information, recruit people to a cause or touch hearts to inspire political change. This is a program that showcases music and an amazing Detroit story from this important time in American history.
In fact this is a musical retelling of the story of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, a couple that ingeniously escaped from slavery in Kentucky to find a home in Detroit, only to be arrested and face the prospect of being sent back to Kentucky. This story centers around the work of abolitionists in Detroit to rescue the Blackburns from this fate.
This is a presentation that would not be possible without the scholarship and work of Karolyn Smardz Frost's book, I've Got A Home In Glory Land. Dr. Frost presented a copy of this book to Rev. Jones during a visit to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and he was immediately struck by the importance the this uniquely Detroit story.
As Karolyn Smardz Frost uses song titles to evoke the spirit of each chapter, Rev. Jones uses the performance of period songs to move the narrative along.
This is program that lasts from 45 minutes to an hour. It features traditional slave songs and spirituals, performed on fretless banjo, guitar, harmonica and fiddle.
In September of 2018 Robert met with Karolyn Smardz Frost during her presentation at an educational symposium on the Underground Railroad held at Wayne County Community College in Detroit.