The leaves were starting to change colors — from the deep greens of summer blades of grass to shades of burgundy, gold and orange — when I visited Philadelphia in November. A sharp coldness was also present in the morning, afternoon and evening air as I walked the streets, lost in my thoughts.
I’d taken this trip with the intent of learning more about the city’s ties to the Underground Railroad, a secret network of safe houses helping enslaved Africans escape elsewhere and live life as free adult and children. I grew up in the Southeastern region of the United States, familiar with all the tales of the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman was always touted as a cornerstone of abolitionists leading the effort, her no-nonsense attitude ensuring enslaved Africans found freedom safely and successfully.
I was, however, naive on just how vast the network was, and how it spread far beyond the South, to places I’d never been before as a little black girl whose universe was set in Stone Mountain, Georgia.