Monday, October 19, 2009

Ask me what I did today…

I worked with William Still's Diary. I am making a clamshell box and designing the label for it.
William Still was an abolitionist along with Harriet Tubman. He kept a journal of all of the "runaway slaves" that passed through his station on the Underground Railroad. A sizable donation was made and the book was conserved by the Conservation Center of Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia. I took a cab ride with Leah to pick it up last Wednesday.
It was wonderful to read every entry : each started with "arrived"…

Arrived - that word that is so loaded. This diary, filled, every page of 1 and 1/4 inches thick of it filled, with entries of people who had "arrived" at freedom. I held the book in my hands, the record of what happened, of the subversiveness that lead to freedom of so many people, I couldn't help but be moved. And the word arrived, such a positive word, I couldn't help but smile and be joyful! Even though these events had happened over 150 years ago!
If he had been found out, if his diary had been discovered, if he had been caught,… but he wasn't. I took several mini-breaks today to read entries - one of my favorites read:
a man who is respected by both his white neighbors and colored friends… he left a wife and 5 children, all free." (Free is actually underlined, but I don't have that function on blogger).
This is only my favorite because it brings everything home to me. My grandmother went into hiding during WWII from the Nazi's. Not because she was Jewish, but because she disagreed with the government and they came after her. Her plight was not the same as the slaves, but the action is the same. The willingness to abandon everything, everything, because one believes they are safer - surer - or have survival, if they leave. I don't know if I could do the same. I hope I am never put in to the same test.

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