Written by Kate Curry
Our community is chock full of amazing creative people of all creeds, colors, and lifestyles. We are so lucky to be surrounded by creators of color and to have relationships with these creators all year-round! We want to give back to the community in a meaningful way and one of the best ways is to support educational centers that work to preserve history and make the lives of BIPOC individuals better.
The Underground Railroad Education Center has been a part of the Albany Community since 2003 with the mission to educate, preserve, and promote the historical understanding of the Underground Railroad Movement and the legacy it has in New York State. Focusing on historical research, the center works to preserve artifacts and historical sites relating to the UR as an integral civil rights movement. The center isn’t only focused on the past though. They work to respond to current-day issues that continue to echo the legacy of slavery and racism, such as: inequity in housing, voting rights, laws, education, healthcare, and jobs!
What Can You Do To Help?
From June 19th to June 23rd 20% of all handmade yarn bowl proceeds will be donated to the Underground Railroad Education Center. This center is a legacy of public memory and empathy - for the enslaved persons who used their voices to tell their stories, for the places that kept them safe in the community, and for their descendants who are still using their voices to remember the complex and emotional stories of their ancestors.
Why Is This Important?
This weekend, June 19th, is the US holiday of Juneteenth. This holiday celebrates anti-slavery and the emancipation of enslaved peoples. In 1865 in Texas, the last of the enslaved people were liberated by the federal army. Many Americans assume slavery ended after the Civil War was won in 1865, but that is not the case. Slavery continued in many areas of the USA until the armed forces were able to go into every state and city to ensure that the Emancipation Proclamation was being upheld.
Every city and town in the USA has a history of abolition. In Albany, there is a building known as the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence, which was an active space in the 1850’s with Black abolitionists who were active in the underground railroad. Hundreds of people made their way to freedom up north and Albany, our community, was a critical area on the journey. Stephen and Harriet Myers used their home as a refuge to offer services for freedom seekers who were making the treacherous trail to Canada at great personal risk.
They were non-enslaved Americans and by helping on the underground railroad, they risked their lives by breaking unjust laws, like the Fugitive Slave Act to assist freedom seekers on their journey. Hundreds of documented individuals sought refuge inside the walls of the Myers residence before the start of the Civil War. Anti-slavery work has been woven into the history of our community, and it is a history we are proud of! This is why we have partnered with the Underground Railroad Education Center to bring the history to you!