As Spectrum News continues to celebrate Black History Month, we look at the rich history of the Underground Railroad system in our community.
Known by many as the Freedom Trail, it helped those who came to our area attempting to escape slavery.
A re-creation of the effort to protect enslaved people seeking freedom is highlighted at an impressive exhibit representing the Underground Railroad at the Rochester Museum & Science Center. It includes the re-creation of an attic space where a woman slave lived for seven years.
"It's meant to provide visitors with the perspective of how awful and traumatic her experience might have been in some small fashion," said Senior Director Kathryn Murano Santos.
The display includes actual shackles worn by an enslaved person and a hands-on version of the shackles.
"This is just intended to give you an opportunity to feel the weight of something like this, this very visceral physical form of oppression in this case," Murano Santos said.
"The Underground Railroad activity in Rochester really intensified after Douglass moved here in 1847."
At least 150 people were protected in Rochester’s Underground Railroad effort in the 1830s, 40s, and 50s.
The Underground Railroad ran throughout the Rochester community. The Rochester Museum & Science Center offers an interactive map where you can see the locations, including Buffalo Road, South Ave and Post Ave.
Sixth graders Tinyra Stokes and Mitchell Nieves attend School 12, Anna Murray-Douglass Academy. It’s built on the site that was once an Underground Railroad location.
"Well I think it's an interesting experience. And now we can learn a lot from it," Tinyra said.
"It’s a place where people helped enslaved people escape from slavery," Mitchell said.
Another location: the original AME Zion Church on Favor Street in the city of Rochester. It is now located on Clarissa Street.
Longtime member Eunice White is proud to be a part of the church that played such a significant role in the lives of her ancestors.
"I feel that it took a lot of courage... for African Americans, the cleverness of maneuvering from one place to another," said White.
The stained glass windows at the church come from the original building that took in those running from slavery.
"I think of my parents, when they always said this generation will be doing this in order to make it better for the next generation," White said.
The effort in the 1800s to pay it forward is one that continues to inspire our community to embrace equality.