Editor's Note

February 04, 2007|By Karlayne Parker | Karlayne Parker,UniSun Editor

Imagine walking hundreds of miles on the path of freedom that many runaway slaves took from the South to the North. Along the journey, you endure harsh weather and terrain and even stay in safe houses -- places where runaways were hidden.

That's what historian Tony Cohen did on a journey to discover his and America's roots in slavery.

He says he did it because he became fascinated with history. And these days, he wants everyone to share in that fascination. Last fall, he coordinated a slave-immersion program at a farm in Maryland. The participants endured the hardships of being a slave, without the physical abuse.

Sun reporter Jonathan Pitts took part in the program and crafted a story (Page 18) about Cohen's attempt to share the living-history experience and what it meant to those involved.

Slavery is the theme of UniSun -- to commemorate Black History Month. I chose this theme because in the past year, I've come across numerous articles about archaeological digs on several Maryland properties that were former slave plantations.

There also was a lot of talk about a slave exhibit in New York City presented by the New York Historical Society, which debunked the notion that slavery didn't exist widely in the North. And it just seems that people are more willing to talk about this period of time than in years past.

Slavery was a harsh and brutal reality for African-Americans. But the toil of those who came before us gave us a prominent spot in American history.

And, in part, this UniSun edition gives credit to those who shed blood, sweat and tears to participate in a country that holds liberty so dearly.

Celia Peters writes about an exhibit (Page 17) that credits slaves for helping to build the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Slave history has inspired others to craft works of art, and Glenn McNatt writes about a new exhibit (Page 16) that showcases items from the slave era and contemporary artists' take on a time when men sold other men like livestock.

We have also included a history quiz (Page 22) by Charles Christian, a distinguished professor at Coppin State University who annually coordinates the Black Saga competition, which tests students' knowledge of black history. You might want to read the Encyclopedia Britannica before taking the quiz.

And Michael Schuman has written a story (Page 13) about the celebration of the history of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. The tumultuous integration of that school 50 years ago captured the attention of the nation.

I encourage you to keep turning the pages. The themed stories are just the beginning of what you'll find inside.


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