Topeka Library Kicks Off Underground Rail Conference

By: From 13 News
By: From 13 News

TOPEKA LIBRARY -- Topeka's Public Library will show "Negroes to Hire," an independent, inspiration-driven film documentary about slave culture in 1850s Missouri and Kansas, 7:00 till 8:45 pm in Marvin Auditorium. The showing of this film is in conjunction with the 2010 National Underground Railroad Conference, and the first time the conference has been held in Kansas (or west of the Mississippi.)

In "Negroes to Hire" – which takes its title from advertisement in the Liberty Tribune–Filmmaker Gary Jenkins explores the history of slavery in Missouri before and during the Civil War using oral histories compiled between 1936 and 1938 and extensive research from historians.

Also appearing is Dr. Jimmy Johnson, a published slavery expert. Johnson’s story about his great-grandfather’s experience as a slave, a soldier in the First Kansas Colored Regiment, and landholder after slavery ended provides a major portion of the documentary.

Negroes to Hire gives insight into the struggle for dignity and freedom that has always been the core of the American Dream, the foundation of which was ironically built by and perverted by slavery. The battles to end slavery, the behavior of slave owners, and the actions of slaves and abolitionists are part of the American story that is both moving and painful. True tales of families torn apart, sexual abuse, whippings and the struggle to break free and control one’s destiny are brought forth and illustrated with historical documentation, reminding us that these events happened just 150 years ago.


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