(WINDSOR, ON) – Those attending yesterday’s Missing From History, Women of the Underground Railroad information sharing session found themselves in an unheard of place. Local maps identify the park next to Olde Sandwich’s Mackenzie Hall, where the event was held, as Mackenzie Hall Park, but for those celebrating the unpublished stories of the Underground Railroad’s women, the park will now be known as the Mary Miles Bibb Park.
It concerns event organizer Tea Jai Travis that Bibb is not as widely known as she should be, considering her untiring efforts to abolish slavery and to give the oppressed the same rights as everyone else. Bibb’s story, though, is one of the few that has some notoriety, while many more have largely remained underground.
The idea to bring these stories to the public domain brought close to a hundred residents to the park to reveal tales never before heard publicly. They existed solely as family lore, passed down from generation to generation.
Windsor Square contributor and singer Jessica Faught, who performed at the event, enthusiastically supports shedding light on the women behind the network of safe houses which escaping slaves followed to freedom in Canada. Many arrived in Sandwich, the local terminus of the Railroad.
For the most part, the knowledge base of the secret network is limited to a few popularized stories. There is so much value, Faught said, in unearthing additional tales. Doing so not only expands knowledge but helps explain where members of the black community came from, “… and gives you a sense of where you’re going.”
Travis, the executive director of the Bloomfield House, was more than pleased with the variety of stories he heard; most had been relegated to the shadows for centuries. Encouraged by the results he announced plans to hold a follow-on meeting in October.
Although Travis may have pounded a placard into the ground to announce the new name of the park, there may be some additional work required to get the Bibb name to stick. No doubt the energetic organizer will include an update in October.