Monday, November 10, 2008

Walk in another man's shoes

Steve and I, along with several of our dearest friends, did one of the coolest things I've done in a long time. Saturday night we went on a 2 hour (freezing cold) hike along part of what was most probably the Underground Railroad back in the 1840's. At first I was a bit skeptical and really not looking forward to being out in the cold. But thanks to my new Old Navy hat and scarf and my beloved Ugg boots, I stayed pretty toasty.

The hike started off with a bit of direction from the metro park ranger, informing us that we were to "get into character" as a group of slaves making our way from the South up to Canada. They also informed us the reason there was an age restriction (no one under the age of 13 was permitted on the hike) was because for the next 2 hours we were going to be treated as if we were truly slaves on the run, including bounty hunters who would be after us. Along the way would be "conductors" who wanted to help us and teach us about our journey.

I really took this to heart. I was convinced part of the hike would be bounty hunters jumping out of the woods and perhaps choose some of our group to go with them. That element made it so real to me. Every snap of a twig or movement of leaves left my heart pounding. At one point during the hike, our group had stopped to hear from one of the "conductors" and I looked around and couldn't find Steve. I was sure he had been nabbed. Finally, I found him behind another in our group. It was so dark that night, we could barely see anything without the help of the 2 lanterns in the group.

At the end of the hike, I was overwhelmed by what the slaves really truly had to go through to gain their freedom. We had a mini glimpse into their journey, but shame on me- I had my Uggs, my Old Navy hat and scarf and all my other warm clothes and I was still complaining. For the past few days my mind has wandered back to Saturday night's experience. I can't shake what price those men, women and children had to pay for freedom that should have rightfully been theirs. Such a timely event too, on the heels of this historic election. Although I said I was not going to reveal who I voted for, lets just say there are some issues that I am quite opposed to with our President-elect. But this hike really helped me to see past those to at least appreciate the incredible milestone electing our first black President really is. I'm sure those men and women whose steps I walked in on Saturday night would have NEVER in a million years dreamt they would see a man of their skin color leading this country. And for that I can celebrate.

4 comments:

Traci said...

Um...that all sounds very intense.

Gina said...

wow! that sounds really cool. i've been thinking so much about slavery lately - I read a book just recently called Not for Sale - about the modern day slave trade (human trafficking) anyway, its just so amazing that not very long ago in the USA slavery was openly acceptable!! weird. your journey sounded really cool - intense. check out http://actioncenter.polarisproject.org/ i've been reading on that a lot lately. Very sad stuff.

KTC said...

wow... how did you hear about this? what made you decide to do it? I'd love to do that! We're at that exact point in history - just pre-civil war. just tonight I pulled out about 5 books for the kids to read about the Underground railroad... and then just now read your post. amazing. A great related but different story is in teh movie Amazing Grace. William Wilberforce, the abolitionist who worked to see England outlaw slavery.

Erin said...

the UGG boots kept you warm the entire time? Wow that is impressive! I will now go out and buy some UGGs because of your suggestion! (wink wink)