The Real History Of The Underground Railroad

illustration of underground railroad
Via Picryl
Adé Hennis
June 21, 2024

Numerous myths surround the Underground Railroad; although some are pretty cool, the truth will always be more powerful.  So let’s shatter some myths. All aboard!

#1: Quakers Organized The Movement 

The Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers, helped the enslaved. Still, their influence has probably been exaggerated by white historians to put them “on the right side of history” and minimize the role of Black people. In truth, many Quakers felt conflicted between their opposition to enslavement and their pacifist beliefs.

#2: Enslaved People Escaped Alone 

While many enslaved people journeyed to freedom alone, it could be safer to escape in small groups. Once free these groups joined communities of other newly free Black people to build their new lives. 

#3: Escaping Through Tunnels

The Underground Railroad was not a network of tunnels running from the South to the North or Canada. Secret rooms, tunnels, and special “hiding spaces” were extremely rare.

The myths surrounding the Underground Railroad do a disservice to the determination and resourcefulness of the Black people who organized it and kept it in operation for nearly 30 years. Though learning about enslavement can be hard, it’s still necessary to ensure the true stories are told.