Not All Runaway Enslaved People Fled To The North

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Via Picryl
Adé Hennis
May 3, 2024

Many of us were taught that enslaved people fled to the North. However, that wasn’t always true.

In 1860, there were approximately 35,766 more freed Black people living in the South than in the North. But why were so many formerly enslaved people escaping to Southern cities like Charleston and New Orleans instead of Boston or Chicago?

For many, the South, with its large Black population was a place of shelter, camouflage, and economic opportunity. Free Black people could find jobs or buy land in the South. In the North, formerly enslaved people faced economic uncertainty and other possible threats.

While many runaway slaves thought that life in the North was their best chance for freedom, remaining in the South helped preserve a sense of unity, economic opportunity, and safety despite violent racism.

The South was dangerous, but that didn’t stop our people from protecting each other’s freedom. What would communities where we are free from the threat of oppression and violence look like today?

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