The Detroit Historical Museum exhibition that caught my attention was the ‘Doorway to Freedom - Detroit and the Underground Railroad.’ I was drawn to this exhibit because I don’t recall ever learning about Michigan’s involvement with the Underground Railroad network. All I remember learning about was that runaway enslaved people were supposed to follow the North Star/the Big Dipper to seek freedom from the Northern states. So after reading through this exhibition, I was able to gain a better understanding of how the secret network functioned in a particular region.
Considering that Detroit’s population is predominately made up of Black people, it makes sense that it would be a prime location for enslaved people to seek freedom. It is interesting how I never knew that Canada was used as an escape route for enslaved people. I thought that the only place that enslaved people would escape to was the Northern states — but this was not the case. Canada becomes an extremely attractive location for freedom seekers after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which made it a law to return fugitive slaves to their original owners.
It’s amazing how even after all these years, the Detroit community still values helping people in need no matter how risky the situation may be.