Date: September 20, 2021
Contact: Amanda Pollock
Church Creek, MD – On September 29, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program will host a virtual “Closing Ceremony for International Underground Railroad Month.” At this event, the Network to Freedom Program will announce the recipients of its Network to Freedom Awards and highlight the newest listings accepted in its 42nd Round of Applications.
The program will feature guest speaker, Ms. Addie Richburg, Executive Director of the 400 Years of African American History Commission.
For many states, September is recognized as International Underground Railroad Month. The State of Maryland first proclaimed September as International Underground Railroad Month in 2019 because it was the month that two of the most well-known freedom seekers and Underground Railroad operatives, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, escaped from slavery. Since then, the commemoration has been expanded to include more states, and this year, other nations. Sites and organizations of the Underground Railroad community develop special content for the commemoration.
The Network to Freedom’s role in International Underground Railroad Month is to bring communities with sites, facilities, and programs that have documented connections to the Underground Railroad together to facilitate opportunities to engage with these stories in a new way.
This year, the Network to Freedom is developing partnerships that highlight the Underground Railroad’s international connections. For example, the National Committees in Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (I.C.O.M.O.S.) worked with the Network to Freedom Program to develop a mapping project to highlight international connections to the Underground Railroad. This project, launched in connection with a contextual story map, seeks out locations connected to freedom seekers outside of the U.S. The most up to date information about Network to Freedom events related to International Underground Railroad month can be found on the Network to Freedom’s website. To close out the commemorative month , the Network to Freedom will look back at the past year and celebrate the accomplishments of its members and partners.
Network to Freedom Awards are presented to individuals who have done outstanding work supporting the Underground Railroad Community. This year, the Network to Freedom presents:
The Wilbur H. Siebert Award for Exemplary Underground Railroad Research recognizes outstanding contributions to research on the Underground Railroad. Siebert, a 19th and 20th century scholar, was an important pioneer in the research and preservation of the history of the Underground Railroad.
The Frederick Douglass Underground Railroad Legacy Award recognizes individuals who continue Douglass’s important legacy of promoting social change by engaging in activism that addresses contemporary social issues. They also embody the spirit of the Underground Railroad, working across class, racial, gender, political, or whatever other lines that divide us, to make the world a better place.
The Robert G. Stanton Award for Network to Freedom Partners recognizes steadfast supporters of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. Stanton served as the 15th National Park Service Director, and served when the National Underground Network to Freedom Program was founded. Stanton continues to support the program through advocacy and participation in Network to Freedom events and projects.
The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program will also highlight the newest accepted listings to the program. Twice per calendar year, the Network to Freedom reviews and accepts applications from sites, facilities, and programs with verified connections to the Underground Railroad. Eighteen new listings were accepted in the 42nd round of applications in 11 states.
The event will be a live virtual event. Advanced registration is required. To register, please follow this link.
The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom serves to honor, preserve, and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, which continues to inspire people worldwide. The Network currently represents over 695 locations in 39 states, plus Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through its mission, the Network to Freedom helps to advance the idea that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression.
Last updated: September 20, 2021