A moderated conversation on “New Directions in the Study of the Underground Railroad” will be the focus of the 16th annual Park University Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture Series event on Monday, Feb. 27 at the National Archives at Kansas City, 400 E. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.
The dialogue will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a reception preceding the discussion at 6 p.m. Admission to the event is free, but reservations are requested by contacting the National Archives at Kansas City at firstname.lastname@example.org or (816) 268-8010.
Historians Spencer Crew, Ph.D. (left), Robinson Professor of American, African-American and Public History at George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.) and Matthew Pinsker, D.Phil. (center), associate professor of history and the Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History at Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pa.), will be joined on the dais by Timothy Westcott, Ph.D. (right), associate professor of history, associate university archivist and chair of the Department of Psychology and Sociology at Park University, who will moderate the discussion. The conversation will focus on past, present and future initiatives to engage, teach and preserve local, regional and national historic sites related to the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor an actual railroad. Its name reflects the activities that were carried out in secret, using darkness or disguise, and because railway terms were used by those involved with the system to describe how it worked. Various routes were lines, stopping places were known as stations, those who aided along the way were conductors and their charges were known as packages or freight. The network of routes extended through 14 northern states and Canada, which was beyond the reach of fugitive-slave hunters. Those who most actively assisted slaves to escape by way of the Underground Railroad were members of the free black community, northern abolitionists, philanthropists and church leaders.
The Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture Series is named for Spencer Cave, who was born a slave at the start of the Civil War, later moved to Parkville, Mo., in 1875 (the year Park University was founded) and worked for the University for more than 70 years before his death in 1947. This year’s lecture is sponsored by Park’s Program of History and the Organization of American Historians.