Michigan Freedom Trail Commission

Underground Railroad monument in Battle Creek

The Michigan Freedom Trail Commission preserves, protects and promotes the rich legacy of the Underground Railroad and the antislavery movement in Michigan.

Commission Members

  • Neil A. Barclay, Detroit, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
  • Amanda J. Campbell, Chair, Harrisville, knowledgeable in historic preservation
  • Rochelle E. Danquah, Farmington Hills, Senate Majority Leader
  • Dr. Angela D. Dillard, Ann Arbor, academic community knowledgeable in African American history
  • Roy E. Finkenbine, Livonia, academic community knowledgeable in African American history
  • Tim Gleisner, Lansing, Library of Michigan
  • Jamon Jordan, Detroit, actively involved in civil rights
  • Deidra E. Mayweather, Grand Rapids, general public
  • Robin Peebles, Lansing, Travel Michigan
  • Vivian L. Ritter, Battle Creek, local communities with significant UGRR presence
  • Priscilla D. Robinson, Detroit, member-at-large
  • Jason Young, Ann Arbor, academic community knowledgeable in African American history

4th Annual Heritage Gathering - September-October 2021

The Michigan Freedom Trail Commission and the Michigan History Center, in partnership with the University of Michigan's Department of History and William L. Clements Library, announce the fourth annual gathering for individuals, organizations and communities interested in our statewide Underground Railroad heritage.

Thursday Evening Virtual Presentations

This year's program kicks off with weekly virtual presentations in September, to commemorate International Underground Railroad Month. Save the date for these programs, which run 7 - 8:30 p.m. They are free and will take place via Zoom. Detail program descriptions and registration links are below.

  • Sept. 9 - Introduction and Background to 1847 Michigan Slave Rescues Deanda Johnson, Midwest Regional Coordinator of the Network to Freedom of the National Park Service, and Bridget Stryker and staff of the Boone County (Ky.) Library, will introduce and provide background to the four Michigan slave rescues in 1847 that grabbed national attention and angered slaveholders and their political allies in the upper South.  Kentucky and Missouri slaveholders had become increasingly concerned about the freedom seekers fleeing to Michigan and decided to take action by going there and reclaiming their human property. Register for Webinar.​
  • Sept. 16 - Crosswhite Case and Robert Cromwell Two of the 1847 rescues will be discussed.  Debian Marty will discuss the Crosswhite rescue in Marshall and Roy E. Finkenbine will discuss the Robert Cromwell rescue in Detroit.  Marty is Professor Emerita of Humanities and Communication at California State University, Monterey Bay.  Finkenbine is Professor of History and Director of the Black Abolitionist Archive at the University of Detroit Mercy.  Both were contributors to A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland. Register for Webinar.
  • Sept. 23 - Kentucky Raid and John Felix White Two more of the 1847 slave rescues with be discussed.  Veta Smith Tucker will discuss the Kentucky Raid in Cass County and Carol Mull will discuss the John Felix White rescue at the convergence of Lenawee, Jackson, and Washtenaw counties.  Tucker is retired Professor of English and African American Studies and Director of the Kutsche Office of Local History at Grand Valley State University, the author of The Kentucky Raid: A Twenty-First Century History, and co-editor of A Fluid Frontier.  Mull is the author of The Underground Railroad in Michigan. Register for Webinar.
  • Sept. 30 The impact of the 1847 Michigan slave rescues and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 Richard Blackett will discuss how the four Michigan slave rescues in 1847 prompted slaveholders and their political allies in Kentucky and Missouri to push for the harsh Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  Blackett is the Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and the author of The Captive's Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the Politics of Slavery. Register for Webinar. 
Annual Heritage Gathering

The annual day-long conference program will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.on Saturday, October 2 at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. 

Like previous year, the day is aimed at networking, information sharing, and developing our next steps. Join us and become part of the conversation!

Schedule at a Glance

  • 9:00 - 9:30 - Welcome
  • 9:30 - 10:45 - Resources for the Study of the Underground Railroad at the Clements Library
  • 11:00 - 12:00 - Crossing Borders: Piloting an International School Curriculum for the Underground Railroad by Clarissa Codrington
  • 12:00 - 1:00 -  Lunch / Networking
  • 1:15 - 2:00 - An Odawa Tale about Michigan's Underground Railroad by Roy E. Finkenbine
  • 2:15 - 3:00-  Freedom is the Foundation: Five Black Detroit Institutions That Come From the Underground Railroad by Jamon Jordan
  • 3:15 - 4:00 - Living in Plain Sight by Laurie Perkins
  • 4:00 - 4:30 Open Discussion: Traveling Exhibition ~ Along the River and Across the State
  • 4:30 - Closing remarks

Registration

Registration for the day is $12, and includes a boxed lunch.  Register now. 

2021 Meeting Schedule

In its quest to discover and chronicle the legacy of the Underground Railroad in Michigan, the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission holds quarterly meetings. Unless noted otherwise, all meetings are held in the Commission Room (fifth floor, east wing) in the Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing and begin at 11 a.m. Meetings are open to the public.

The Michigan Library and Historical Center is located at 702 West Kalamazoo Street, Lansing. The building and visitor parking are on the north side of Kalamazoo Street, two blocks east of M. L. King Jr. Boulevard.​

  • October 8
  • December 17

Commission Documents

Programs and Initiatives

Updated 08/27/2021