• it was the first movement of activism against slavery, ran during the 19th century and helped to secure thousands of black slaves territory.
  • I had secret structure, used railway terminology and counted with the help of abolitionists who collaborated to bring slaves to the North or Canada.
  • a travelling exhibition that will tour several cities in the United States and a book with photos of symbolic sites are reminiscent of the participants in the movement.

 Jeanine Michna-Bales - Stopover. Frogmore Plantation, Concordia Parish, Louisiana, 2014

escaped on closed nights and no Moon, almost always without more information than follow the direction of the Pole Star . The North meant to be free and not belonging, as an object, a white man, i.e., to be one of the four millions of slaves in some parts of the root

tends to present the situation of African-Americans under slavery until 1865, when after the Civil War was passed the Emancipation Act, bereavement impassive and inactive submission. The truth is that at least 100,000 people managed to flee the submission escaping to Canada or to the Northern States, where slavery was legal.

one of the lesser-known movements organized to facilitate the flight was the so-called Underground Railroad (Underground Railroad), a network of secret routes and places where refugees could get temporary shelter or help . Considered that the clandestine organization, in which thousands of people were involved was the first movement of activists against slavery and, therefore, the first also in the fight for civil rights.

in the book Through Darkness to Light, Photographs Along the Underground Railroad ( through the darkness to the light: photographs along the underground railroad ), Jeanine Michna-Bales presents a fotoensayo with images and night that reveal historical sites, cities and places those who crossed were looking for freedom the shelter given to them by the abolitionists of the secret organization .

volume, edited by Princeton Architectural Press [192 páginas, 40 dólares, sin precio fijado aún en euros]is the narration in images and essays of “a journey of untold difficulties in search of freedom”.

a route of almost 800 kilometers

images, in the always mysterious and disturbing nightlife to remember how moved escaped slaves, follows a route of almost 800 kilometers, from cotton plantations of Louisiana Central, across the swamps of Mississippi cypresses and the plains of Indiana , to the States of the North and Canada.

images evoke fear constant night travelers must have suffered the danger of being killed – kill a slave was not crime in favour of the system States and acted to collect rewards – bands of hunters or recaptured.

ten years of research

after ten years of research and work on the ground, Michna-Bales stops at safe places in which were refugees temporarily the escaped with the help of the clandestine group. The images are alternated with testimonies of the time related to those epic Odyssey in search of freedom.

the members of the Group secret used railway terminology – drivers and Machinists were those who helped or guided slaves ; stations, Frank places to hide during the day ; passengers, the escapees themselves ; Rails, routes…-. The book highlights figures of singular importance as Harriet Tubman, a host which made 13 trips of rescue that saved 70 slaves while he risked his own freedom, given that she herself was a fugada .

‘as if they were in heaven’

in the book appears a quotation from Tubman, called the Moses of the slaves on your first impression to be in territory free of slavery: “looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now that he was free. “There was such glory above all, the Sun came as if it were gold through the trees on the fields, that I felt as if you were in heaven”.

Michna-Bales heard underground railroad when he was a child, since many of the routes of escape through his home State, Indiana. Fascinated with the will of the people capable of walking on the sly for the chance to be free, he inquired about the movement in old newspapers and historical documents.

‘To illuminate dark corners’

“it is my hope that this project will help to illuminate the dark corners of our shared history and shows us that when we work together great things can be accomplished,” said the photographer in the text signed in the book.

in an essay on the movement, the historian Fergus M. Bordewich concludes: “If the long and daunting history of slavery showed white Americans at its worst, reveals them the history of the underground railroad, white and black, as a lasting model of interracial collaboration that is valid for our own time and the time to come “.

Through Darkness photographs to Light will travel to several cities of the United States in a traveling exhibition that begins in 2017 and will end its tour in 2022 .