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Pre-Conference Events


Researching the Underground Railroad

Date and Time: Tuesday, July 15 (9 am-12 am)

Location: Detroit Public Library (Explorers Room on Level A)

               5201 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48202  

Parking: Employee Lot (Located Between Woodward and Cass)

Description: Learn about utilizing area repositories that can further inquiries into the history of the Underground Railroad. Presenters include representatives from the Burton Collection at Detroit Public Library, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Black Abolitionist Archive at University of Detroit Mercy, the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, and the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. Each will highlight their collections relevant to slavery, antislavery, and the Underground Railroad. After the conclusion of the workshop, attendees can decide to stay and conduct research in the library's Burton Collection or attend afternoon workshops on education or heritage tourism as it relates to the Underground Railroad. Price includes continental breakfast.


To gain entrance into the library for the workshop, please enter at the Putnam Entrance.


Cost: $25 for one workshop, $35 for two workshops

     detroit public library logo

Tools for Educating about the Underground Railroad

Date and Time:  Tuesday, July 15 (1:30 pm-4:30 pm)

Location:   Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

                 315 E. Warren Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201

Description: Learn about different methods to engage students in learning about the Underground Railroad through project based learning with National History Day and connecting with historic sites.  Tools for teachers such as the Charles Wright Educational Website "Underground Railroad:  The Struggle Against Slavery" and new Network to Freedom lesson plans will be presented. Price includes afternoon snack.

Cost: $25 for one workshop, $35 for two workshops



Developing Heritage Tourism Assets

Date and Time:  Tuesday, July 15 (1:30 pm-4:30 pm)

Location:  Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

                315 E. Warren Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201

Description:  Learn about efforts in the Ohio River Valley to develop a "freedom corridor" as a heritage tourism destination.  Attendees will also learn about the vision for developing a World Heritage Site designation for the Detroit River to raise visibility and enhance tourism potential.  A group discussion will follow about challenges, opportunities, and best practices in engaging in heritage tourism projects. Price includes afternoon snack.

Cost: $25 for one workshop, $35 for two workshops

 Charles Wright Museum Logo


Get Out, Move and Explore the Underground Railroad

Get out, move and explore Detroit's Underground Railroad heritage.  This year's conference focuses on women and the Underground Railroad, and since cycling like the anti-slavery movement was integral to women's liberation and because Detroit has an Underground Railroad Cycling Spur Route, there will be cycling tours available of the city's Underground Railroad history. There will also be walking tours of Elmwood Cemetery where many of those involved in the city's Underground Railroad are buried and kayaking tours on the Detroit River, and activities for youth. These activities will not only allow for the exploration of Detroit's role in the Underground Railroad movement, but encourage people to engage in healthy living.


Belle Isle Kayak Tour
Riverside Kayak Connection, LLC

Date and Time: Tuesday, July 15 (10 am-11:30 am/12:00 pm)

ocation: Belle Isle

Description: Detroit's Underground Railroad — codenamed Midnight — was the last stop on a long journey for many fugitive slaves looking to cross the river to Canada — and their freedom.

Follow their journey by kayak!

On Belle Isle, launch from the east end of the beach, overlooking the skyline of Detroit.  This tour begins with excitement, adventure, and, of course spectacular views.  Once on the water we head east past the Detroit Yacht club and continue on into Belle Isle's canal, offering a new perspective of this historic Island.  Continuing on paddlers are exposed to the Detroit River & Lake St. Claire, featuring sailboats, leisure crafts, and massive freighters.  While guide offers their historical knowledge on the area, the tour will begin to head back west on the Detroit River.  The last 30 minutes of the paddle sums up this adventure with a clear shot of the Detroit skyline.

As this is a tour which will mostly be in a canal, and the second part moving with the current of the river.  Beginners and people with no previous kayaking experience welcome. Come prepared with an adventurous attitude and a positive spirit!

To register, call 734-285-2925. Major credit cards accepted.

Cost:  $40

For questions or more information, contact Anita Twardesky by phone at 734-626-5465 or by email at anita@riversidekayak.com.

Riverside Kayak Connection, LLC Logo

The Underground Railroad and the Great Outdoors

Date and Time: Tuesday, July 15 (1:00-5:00 pm)

Location: COBO Center (Room 311A/B)

                1 Washington Blvd

                Detroit, MI 48226

Learn how freedom seekers used nature to aid in their escapes along the Underground Railroad. Participants will learn how freedom seekers could navigate their way north using the night sky with a demonstration in the Michigan Science Center's STARLAB, an inflatable, portable planetarium.

The program is geared towards youth, but all ages welcome!


The program will start at 20 minute intervals each hour (i.e. 1:00 pm, 1:20 pm, 1:40 pm, etc).


Cost: The event is free and open to the public.



Underground Railroad Bike Tour 

Date and Time: Tuesday, July 15 (5:00 pm-7:00 pm)
Location: Wheelhouse Detroit

               1340 Atwater Street, Detroit, Michigan 48207

Description: Detroit was an important station on the Underground Railroad, and the final American stop prior to freedom across the River in Canada for many escaped slaves. We will visit the Underground Railroad memorial sculpture on the Detroit RiverWalk, historic Second Baptist Church, Elmwood Cemetery as well as several other significant sites in and around Downtown Detroit.

To register online for the tour, click here

Cost: $28.50 (tour)/$38.50 (tour and bike rental)

For questions or more information, contact Wheelhouse Detroit at 313.656.2453.

Wheelhouse Detroit 


Elmwood Cemetery Underground Railroad Walking Tour

Date and Time: Tuesday, July 15 (5:00 pm-7:00 pm)
Location: Wheelhouse Detroit

               1200 Elmwood Street

               Detroit, MI 48207


The Historic Elmwood Cemetery is the final resting place of many of those involved in the city’s Underground Railroad movement. Learn about these individuals and their role in the struggle against slavery in a guided walking cemetery tour. The tour will also highlight some key African American buried at Elmwood.


To register for the tour, please call 313.801.1971.


Cost: There is no charge for the guided tour, but space is limited.  A self-guided tour is available all-day with the purchase of a $2 map to thsat details the location of relevant burials.



Detroit Historical Museum Reception

Date and Time:  Tuesday, July 15 (6:30 pm-9:30 pm)
Location: Detroit Historical Museum

               5401 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48202

Description:  Before the conference officially starts, mingle with other attendees and the descendants of area Underground Railroad participants, and let the backdrop of the Detroit Historical Museum introduce you to the city's rich history, and why it was chosen as the host city for this year's conference.  The museum's exhibits include "Doorway to Freedom: Detroit and the Underground Railroad"(Unveiled in November 2012). The reception, sponsored by the Detroit Historical Society and hosted by their Black Historic Sites Committee, will also include a performance of scenes from "A Midnight Cry: The Underground Railroad to
Freedom".  Based on the life of Caroline Quarlls whose experience
is represented by serveral NTF listings, the musical tells the story of Lida Anderson, a young female freedom seeker, and her journey along the Underground Railroad

Founded in 1992, Mosaic Youth Theatre is an internationally acclaimed youth development program that concentrates on helping young artists excel on stage and in life. Mosaic is now recognized as a highly regarded cultural treasure for the city of Detroit and southeast Michigan. Mosaic's national and international touring performances bring recognition to Detroit as a center for arts and culture and promote a positive image of metro Detroit area youth.

Cost: $25


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