The Great Valley High School Multicultural Student Union took the Underground Railroad Tour this past spring. Funded by the grant from The Foundation at Great Valley, the trip was designed to enrich students’ knowledge of history as it relates to current society’s racial and socioeconomic issues. The Multicultural Student Union has 30 members; social worker Krista Russell is the club advisor.
“This grant request was designed to allow students to get a look at pre-abolition life in Baltimore, and at many people who influenced the economic, moral, and cultural aspects of life for the years following, continuing into the present,” said Russell.
In preparation for the trip, members of the Multicultural Student Union read a book by Catherine Clinton called “Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom.” Once on-site, students were met by a tour guide who provided a rich history of three tour destinations and explained their importance to the Underground Railroad and to black history in America. The tour demonstrated both the wealth and beauty of the property, as well as the original slave quarters. Students also visited the Orchard Street Church and heard a slave story, told by an actor who portrayed a slave from the time.
“The tour was a huge success,” said Russell. “A largely diverse group themselves, students seemed to recognize the gravity of what they were witnessing. They asked thoughtful questions and bravely endured learning through primary sources about horrific parts of our past. The experience taught about the politics, institutions and traditions which bore on slavery. But students also learned about the many brave, visionary, altruistic people who united on behalf of those imprisoned.”
In addition to taking the trip, Russell shared that several club members also took the study of the Underground Railroad further. “Several (students) completed an independent study of the trip and earned credit for completing an associated curriculum of study.”