Planning a reunion with history in mind is just one of over 24 workshop topics to be featured at this year’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference to be held June 1-2 at the Cambridge branch of Chesapeake College.
The conference will provide an amazing array of workshop topics, speakers, films, tours and more, spotlighting the heritage of the region and beyond.
One workshop, “So You’re in Charge of the Reunion? How to Plan, Organize, and Make Yours Better Than Ever,” presented by the travel magazine Pathfinders will give tips and advice on how to incorporate local history into family or community reunions, to make these events a learning experience.
Pre-conference tours are available including guided historical discussions aboard the skipjack Nathan, and on various bus tours through Dorchester and Caroline Counties.
For a true outdoor historical experience, there will be bicycle and kayak tours of the region of Tubman’s youth. Workshops will focus on these landscapes – the marshes, rivers and woods of the region – and how they shaped the strategies for escapes to freedom.
Workshops will include the history of textile production by African American women during the period of slavery and stories about refugees from slavery during the Civil War known as “contraband.”
A variety of fascinating stories will be presented, including the history of Thomas McCreary of Elkton, Maryland, a kidnapper and slave-catcher who operated in three states. Another story examines the life of the Rev. James M. McCarter, a Methodist minister with abolitionist views, who served as a chaplain during the Civil War and lived on the Eastern Shore.
The story of Anthony Johnson, one of the earliest recorded histories of an African in America, will be presented by Walter W. Black, Jr., who will describe his family connections to the early colonist who settled on the Eastern Shore.
Historian Anthony Cohen will recount his 1966 “Walk to Canada,” retracing the route of the Underground Railroad from Maryland across the border to Canada, as well as reenactments of other extraordinary escapes. These are just a few of the more than 24 available workshops.
The conference will feature two keynote speakers. The conference will open with New York scholar and author Dr. Judith Wellman. The keynote speaker for the conference Celebration Dinner, this year held on the Friday of the conference, will be Smithsonian Institute scholar Dr. John W. Franklin.
The conference is hosted by the Choptank Region History Network, which holds monthly history discussion group meetings about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.