Underground Railroad Ties, Blackness Project

Years after his retirement from WRGB-TV after 38 years of telling stories that touched everyone, reporter Ken Screven remains a fixture in his community.

Ancestry Railroad TiesYou can and should watch, at this link, the 23-minute film Railroad Ties, presented by Ancestry® and SundanceTV.

“Six descendants of fugitive slaves and abolitionists come together in Brooklyn to discover more about their lineage. Documenting each person learning about their ancestors, and featuring renowned historian, Henry Louis Gates Jr., the film interweaves powerful personal moments with contextual historical anecdotes.”

Here’s the CBS News story about Railroad Ties.


In Buffalo, NY, The Blackness Project is helping people talk about race.

It is “a featured length documentary film about culture and race from the perspectives of African American and other minorities. The film was inspired from conversations about the “Whiteness Project” which is a similar documentary discussing race and the perceived loss of white privilege by white Americans. The main purpose of The Blackness Project film is to bridge the gap between white and black Americans with in depth interviews on race.


My buddy Ken Screven Remains Active, Despite On-Air Retirement

“Years after his retirement from WRGB-TV after 38 years of telling stories that touched everyone, reporter Ken Screven remains a fixture in his community, from his Albany Times Union blogs to his active social media following. This Black History Month, we take an in-depth look at the trails he blazed to become the first black on-air reporter in the Capital Region.”


Weekly Sift: I See Color

“Having a choice about whether or not you’ll notice race today is an element of white privilege.”


Alabama Newspaper Calls For Ku Klux Klan ‘To Night Ride Again’


This Is What Alvin Ailey Gave Us

“We sat down with Leslie Odom Jr. to talk about Alvin Ailey’s powerful legacy in dance.”


‘We’ll be back for you’

“Ensign Jesse L. Brown, USN In the cockpit of an F4U-4 Corsair fighter, circa 1940. He was the first African-American Naval Aviator to see combat. Brown was shot down over North Korea.”


Meet The Fearless Cook Who Secretly Fed — And Funded — The Civil Rights Movement

“Georgia Gilmore, the Montgomery cook, midwife and activist whose secret kitchen fed the civil rights movement.”


Don Newcombe, a star right-hander for the Dodgers who made history by becoming the first pitcher to win the rookie of the year, most valuable player and Cy Young awards in his career, has died at 92.

Nicknamed Newk, he played for the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles and was the first black pitcher to start a World Series game, in 1949.


Ken Levine: MVP Frank Robinson

In These Challenging Times: Tonko on 4 July

Congressman Paul Tonko will reflect on the meaning of July 4th in the context of our current political and social climate.

Within the framework of Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is Your Fourth of July,” Congressman Paul Tonko, as featured speaker for the 2018 July 4th Oration, will reflect on the meaning of July 4th in the context of our current political and social climate.
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The legacy of the institution of slavery weighs us down as a nation, but, together, we can rise up and shake off the weight by carrying on the enduring legacy of our abolitionist forebears.
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Program – 11am-12noon at The Myers Residence at 194 Livingston Avenue, Albany, NY 12210 – bring your own chair if you can
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Lunch – 1pm-2pm – bring a dessert to share
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Restroom facilities available. Parking is on Livingston Avenue and Third Street.

Harriet Tubman Home, Auburn, NY

“The best part of the experience was the gentleman that provided the overview of Harriet Tubman’s life and conducted the tour.”

Vacation, July 18, 2016

The final stop on our summer vacation last year was to the Harriet Tubman Home. You are probably familiar with the heroics of arguably the country’s leading abolitionist. But the house, and its use, is an interesting story too.

“In 1858 New York Senator William Seward” – the future US Secretary of State who helped the US buy Alaska from the Russians in 1867 – “made Harriet Tubman a proposition. He would sell her his property in Auburn, NY for a reasonable price and flexible terms.” This transaction was technically illegal.

“Auburn had a strong abolitionist group and Seward was a well known supporter of the Underground Railroad who Harriet could depend on for funds and shelter for her people.

“Before the Civil War about 500 slaves passed through Auburn on their way north. Tubman knew Senator Seward well as she had used his house as a station many times. She was encouraged to move to Auburn [from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada] by a long time friend and supporter, Lucretia Mott.

“In 1886 her house was destroyed by fire, none were hurt. Nelson Davis, Tubman’s second husband, was a brick maker and helped rebuild her house. He replaced the original wood structure with brick, making it stronger and longer lasting.

“In order to fulfill her dream to build a home for the elderly Tubman purchased additional land. In 1896 Tubman bought at auction 25 acres of land adjacent to her property located at 182 South Street. The land was sold for $1,450. The AME Zion Church raised funds and with the support of a local bank providing a mortgage Tubman was able to complete the transaction.”

We agree with most of the folk on Trip Advisor, that “The best part of the experience was the gentleman that provided the overview of Harriet Tubman’s life and conducted the tour. He was so very well informed and you could tell truly enjoys what he does in sharing her life with everyone that visits. The tour of the home was good; however, his presentation made this terrific.”

Of course, Harriet Tubman is scheduled to be on the $20 bill at some point before 2024. Harriet died on March 10, 1913, and March 10 is a minor holiday, especially in New York State.

U is for Underground Railroad History Project

Stephen A. Myers
Stephen A. Myers
This being the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, I figure I should note one of the treasures of the Albany, NY area: the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region. In case you are unaware, the Underground Railroad was the “effort–sometimes spontaneous, sometimes highly organized–to assist persons held in bondage in North America to escape from slavery.” See also information from the PBS site and History.com.

The UGRR History Project started when Mary Liz, an elementary school teacher was interested to see if there was any UGRR history in the Albany area. Most of the experts told her no. Yet she and her husband Paul , who works for a community loan fund, were dissatisfied with the answer, and kept digging for more.

Eventually, they found enough historically significant sites to give walking tours in Albany. The non-profit organization they helped form has held a well-regarded conference on the topic for a dozen years.

Most significantly, they discovered a residence of Stephen and Harriet Myers, “point people in Albany regarding the Underground Railroad in the 1850s, which their organization has helped rebuild. Here’s the Wikipedia page about the structure.

In October, Paul and Mary Liz Stewart bicycled 730 miles across New York State on the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Trail. They brought attention to the important role the Erie Canal played in the Underground Railroad movement and raised funds for Underground Railroad History Project.
abc15

ABC Wednesday, Round 15