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Free Black Communities and the Underground RailroadThe Geography of Resistance$
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Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038044

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038044.001.0001

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The Geography of Resistance

The Geography of Resistance

(p.87) Chapter 5 The Geography of Resistance
Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad

Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines escape routes, churches, iron forges and furnaces, and waterways that make up the pathways to freedom and “the geography of resistance.” It considers the concept of freedom as a place by exploring the connections between freedom and the landscape, and between Black communities and the Underground Railroad. It discusses the obstacles that captives escaping slavery had to hurdle, such as losing the challenges of the terrain and bad weather, betrayal, physical suffering, and slave catchers. It also looks at houses as artifacts of the Underground Railroad in the landscape, along with the patterns of rural Black settlements and how most free Blacks often found themselves saddled with the least desirable land. It argues that the landscape is an intimate component of the Black experience, providing crucial pathways out of slavery, and that generations of escapees on the Underground Railroad turned to the sheltering anonymity of the land to conceal their journey.

Keywords:   escape routes, iron forges, waterways, freedom, resistance, landscape, Underground Railroad, slavery, Black settlements, free Blacks

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