By Lesley Gist, The Gist of Freedom
“But at the center of this mural are the enslaved themselves, who have essentially set in motion their own liberation.”
The mural shows, in a profound and powerful way, that the enslaved, themselves were driving their liberation.”
The 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, was the last “Slavery Law” enacted. It ignited dozens of pre-civil war skirmishes. The Law was revised in response to the mass exodus of Freedom Seekers who escaped via the Underground Railroad. The U.G.R.R. comprised of multi-racial Antislavery Organizations, like the Vigilance Committee ( A hybrid of The Black Panthers and The NAACP). These groups led boycotts, Anti-slavery rallies, distributed literature and provided legal assistance to the self-emancipated African Americans.
After the new law, members defiantly resisted, by all means necessary, the fugitive slave law’s kidnappings. Ultimately these rescues and the tension they created led to the abolitionists’ and slavers’ final battle, The Civil War.
Part 2 explores how the war with Mexico in the mid-1840s accelerated the debate by raising the question of whether territory gained by the United States in that conflict would be slave or free. Douglass (portrayed in re-enactments by Richard Brooks of “Law & Order”) emerges as a major player, recruited by Garrison to speak across the North. His appearances put a face on what for many had been a theoretical discussion.
Abolitionist allies Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimké turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that changed the nation.