Hi, Guideposts. I'm Shella Gillus, historical fiction writer and Bible teacher. There's a few facts about the Underground Railroad that viewers may not know about. One is the influence of some of the abolitionists that worked on the Underground Railroad.
For instance, Frederick Douglass was a former slave who acquired his freedom at the age of 28. And he not only helped with the Underground Railroad, but he became a prolific speaker and traveled not just in the United States, but in Europe, and talked about why we should end slavery. And his influence was incredible. He ended up writing a slave narrative that was really influential to the end of slavery.
Another thing that viewers might not be aware of is that the Negro spirituals-- they would sing these songs, but they were codes. So they would sing the song like "Swing low, sweet chariot, coming forth to carry me home." But when they would sing that song, that was a code for, "We are going to be carried forth home to freedom tonight."
And when they would talk about Moses, they were talking-- it was referring to Harriet Tubman, who was one of the main conductors, one of the main people that carried the slaves through the Underground Railroad. And so when they sing about Moses, they were saying, "Harriet Tubman's coming tonight. This is our time for escape."
I think one of the things that people often ask is, why do we even need to go back in history? Why are we looking at slavery? I mean, it's 2018. What is the point? And one of the things-- we know that history tends to repeat itself. If we looked at what happened with the Underground Railroad, we know that it's happened before in history.
When we look at the Book of Exodus, chapter 1, we see an oppressed people, people who were in slavery, the children of Israel. And we see this pharaoh who was oppressing them, who said, you know, the children, sons, boys who were two years old and younger were to be killed. Well, we see these Egyptian midwives rise up and say, "We're not going to let this happen." And they hide and protect these boys.
Well, it's exactly what happened with the Underground Railroad. There were people that said, "This is not what we want." And they hid these slaves and tried to help them escape to freedom. We saw it again in, you know, Nazi Germany in the 1940s, when we saw the people rising up and saying, "We're going to hide the Jewish people."
And so if we don't look back, we will find ourselves in similar situations. We see it in the world today. So it's always important that we look back and decide, who do we want to be? And what can we learn from history that we can change and make things better?
What I learned in my research about the Underground Railroad that gives me hope for America today is the fact that there is always a remnant. There's always a group of people that stand up and say, "Enough is enough." It always happens. I mean, we can see, if we are honest with ourselves, and we look in our country, if we look in our community, we look in our churches or schools, there's someone who rises up who says, "We can make a difference. We can change this. This isn't who we have to be." And I think the question we have to ultimately ask ourselves is, will it be me?