2017-06-08 Photo Caption: (l to r) Aisha Hinds, Misha Green, and Joe Pokaski from "Underground" at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
Cambridge, Maryland- In honor of the grand opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Maryland, the National Pak Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program (NTF) co-hosted its National Conference with the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference in partnership with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the Organization of American Historians (OAH). The conference, “On the Edge of Freedom: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in the Borderlands,” was held in nearby Cambridge, Maryland, May 18-21. The event brought together scholars, site stewards, community researchers, and enthusiasts from across the nation for four days of renowned speakers, panel discussions, workshops, exhibits, and tours.
One of the conference highlights was a panel featuring co-creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski and actress Aisha Hinds who portrays Harriet Tubman of WGN America’s critically acclaimed television series “Underground,” the first television series to deal specifically with the Underground Railroad. The series follows “a group of courageous men and women who use their ingenuity, power and perseverance to attempt the greatest escape in history and break free, despite the dire consequences that awaited them on the other side.” The record breaking show’s second season dedicated an entire episode to Harriet Tubman, the most recognizable Underground Railroad figure, entitled “Minty” (Tubman’s nickname). The revolutionary episode featured Hinds delivering an hour-long and definitive speech as Tubman, and was described as one of the greatest in television history and received rave reviews across the board, and called “Remarkable” by both The Associated Press and The New York Times.
The panel, which was organized and moderated by Déanda Johnson, Midwest Regional Coordinator of the NTF, discussed the groundbreaking series, the inspiration behind it, the importance of bringing this larger than life story of American heroes to the small screen, and how the past is still relevant. Actress Aisha Hinds brought the audience to tears talking about what it was like to play the iconic Harriet Tubman. Hinds said, “I was just a vessel for her voice…the story tells itself.”
The panel will air Sunday, June 11 at 5:00 pm (EDT) on C-SPAN3 American History TV. After it airs, it will be available online at https://www.c-span.org/video/?428763-3/behind-tv-series-underground .