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Roebuck to address national seminar on Underground Railroad
CONTACT: Jay Purdy, Legislative Information Office, 717-787-7895

HARRISBURG, Feb. 12 - State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., will be the keynote speaker at a one-day seminar on Pennsylvania's involvement in the Underground Railroad and the anti-slavery movement prior to the Civil War.

The first National Underground Railroad and Abolitionists Seminar will be held Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Gettysburg Campus of Harrisburg Area Community College. The event is co-sponsored by the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association.

The railroad was a network of routes and hiding places escaping slaves from the South could use as they made their way to freedom in the northern states and Canada.

"The Civil War was such a cataclysmic event that it overshadows many of the events that led up to it as well as those that followed during the period known as 'Reconstruction,'" said Roebuck.

"Americans know a little about Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and their activities with the Underground Railroad, but the public has little exposure to the evolution of the abolition movement and the complexity of the Underground Railroad."

In the Gettysburg area, one can still see buildings and caves where escaping slaves hid and the pathways they took as they made their way north. Roebuck said the focus of the seminar's 10 speakers will be the Commonwealth's leading role in anti-slavery activity and the preservation of sites important to the Underground Railroad, including the efforts of community members to aid escaping slaves and the work of the National Park Service to identify local sites.

"Just as commemorative tablets mark the routes of military campaigns of the Revolution and the Civil War, I hope this seminar and those to follow will provide future generations the ability to walk the exact paths many desperate people walked nearly 140 years ago and earlier in their bid for freedom," Roebuck concluded.

In addition to the seminar, Roebuck said he intends to use his visit to Gettysburg to get acquainted with the Lincoln Cemetery. The graveyard, just blocks from the Gettysburg National Military Cemetery, is the final resting place of more than 24 African-Americans who fought in the Union Army's "colored" regiments but could not be buried in the national cemetery because of their race.

A movement is underway to restore the cemetery, pay proper respect to its honored dead and compile information on the veterans of the Civil War and later wars buried there.

The cost to attended the National Underground Railroad and Abolitionists Seminar, including lunch and a continental breakfast, is $49. Additional information can be obtained by calling Carol Gerkin at 717-337-3855.

The Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association maintains a Web site at


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back to media pageReadshaw and the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project may be contacted by e-mail at or by phone, 717-783-0411.

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