Our "Conductor" Cheryl Brown

It is my duty -- as it was Harriet Tubman's, Josiah Henson's and others -- to tell the story, to conduct the experience, to teach my people to honor and love our ancestors and appreciate what they did for us. It is my duty to communicate to you the strength and courage our ancestors used to pave the way for us, in this modern day and age, to be free from bondage. I invite you to explore these pages and imagine the steps taken by those daring Africans; and, I hope everyone reading this special edition is compelled to action in honoring our ancestral heritage. Please join me as I call on the inimitable spirit of Harriet Tubman to guide me, your conductor, as we travel on the Underground Railroad. As your editor, I am pleased to offer you this gift of history. All Aboard!

--Cheryl Brown, editor of The Black Voice News

Inland Empire Consortium for International Studies

The Inland Empire Consortium for International Studies (IECIS) is a California Subject Matter Project that sponsors and supports teacher education programs on international and multicultural issues. The Underground Railroad had important international and multicultural components. People of many races and cultures worked to help people along the path to freedom, including Euro Americans, free African Americans, Native Americans and Latinos. The international dimensions of the Underground Railroad have received limited focus in the past, maybe because so many Americans consider modern Canada so much like them that they forget it is another country. But during the period of slavery, both Canada and Mexico were ahead of the United States in recognizing the inalienable rights of people. The slave trade was abolished in English territory in 1807. Slavery itself was ended in British lands in 1834 and in Mexico shortly after. As laws allowing recapture of escaped people became harsher in the U.S. after 1850, even northern states were no longer havens for those seeking freedom. Crossing the international border was required.

The Footsteps to Freedom travel study opened the eyes of participants to the incredible stories of those ordinary people of conscience who defied unfair laws and worked to bring freedom to the enslaved by smuggling them to Canada. What they did was against the law and carried high penalties. Secrecy was so necessary that few records were kept and many of these courageous people have been forgotten. By act of Congress signed into law in late July 1998, the National Park Service has been charged with preserving the sites and stories of the Underground Railroad as an important chapter in the human quest for dignity and freedom. The Footsteps to Freedom field study was he first organized group of educators to follow the path of the Underground Railroad from Kentucky to Ohio since the signing of this landmark legislation. Participants became part of a National Freedom Network that will write the curriculum to preserve the deeds of these everyday Americans, both black and white, who served as torch bearers to those young people who must continue the struggle for human rights in the next generation.

The Inland Empire Consortium for International Studies is sponsored by California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, California State University San Bernardino, University of California Riverside, World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California, Riverside County Office of Education and the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. Site Director is Dr. Margaret (Peg) Hill.

Participants in Footsteps to Freedom

Cheryl Brown Tour Leader, Publisher of the Black Voice News black_voice@eee.org

Hardy Brown, Publisher of the Black Voice News black_voice@eee.org

Peg Hill, Director, IECIS peg_hill@sbcss.k12.ca.us

Sandra Boe, Teacher on Assignment, IECIS sandra_boe@sbcss.k12.ca.us

Duneen DeBruhl, Principal Rio Vista School, San Bernardino City USD dr_duneen@hotmail.com

Lisa Dewey, Bonnie Oehl Elementary, San Bernardino City USD mjdewey@empirenet.com

John Glasheen, Ridge Crest Elementary School, Moreno Valley USD JGlasheen@aol.com

Claudette Goode, Communtiy Member, San- Bernardino CA

Peter Hidalgo, Shandin Hills Middle School, San- Bernardino City USD

Jim Hill, Upland High School, Upland USD apeurotch@aol.com

Artha Hooker, Retired Teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District

Gigi Jackson, Principal Highland-Pacific Elementary School, San Bernardino City USD ChiChiRJ@aol.com

Kay Clapper, D.A. Brown Middle School, Elsinore USD

Ruth Curry, Wilson Elementary School , San Bernardino City USD RC3671@aol.com

Dick Folger, Emerson Elementary School, Riverside USD dnwfolger@earthlink.net

Suzanne Hidalgo, Serrano Middle School, San Bernardino City USD

Judy Krupnick, Chemawa Middle School, Riverside USD seligman@pe.net

Karen Love, Temecula Middle School, Temecula Valley USD

Sylvia Martin-James, Lincoln High School, Riverside USD

Maxine Miller, Vice Principal, Curtis Middle School, San Bernardino City USD Samahdi@aol.com

Carol McCormac, Jurupa Hills Elementary School, Fontana USD

Bertha Nelson, Emmerton Elementary School, San Bernardino City USD

Michele Osinski, Vintage Hills Elementary School, Temecula Valley USD cheleoh@pe.net

Yvonne Thrower, Winton Middle School, Hayward USD

May Ward, Communtiy Member, Riverside CA

Sindi Wasserman, Buena Vista High School, Chino USD