What would you do for freedom? It’s a question historical interpreter and storyteller Sheila Arnold repeatedly asked the audience on Wednesday night at Lancaster Community Library.
Would you run away from your slave master in the winter if it meant crossing a half frozen river and trying to hold your baby overhead when you fell in?
Would you leave some of your children slaving in a field—no explanation, no goodbye—because there was a chance to run and get your other children free?
Would you strip down to your underclothes to fit into a passage on a ship that dropped you into a secret compartment filled with strangers? And how about if fitting through that tight channel would scrape off portions of your skin, going in and coming out?
These scenarios came from true stories that happened to people on the Underground Railroad who were trying to escape slavery.
“This is not something that never happened again,” Arnold said. “We need to stop today and ask that question—why would people go through what they go through for this thing called freedom that we hold so precious? And if you can look at the people who were slaves and say, we can understand why you would do that, then we need to look at people today and say the same thing,” she said at the conclusion of her performance.
Arnold’s presentation was part of a new program she developed called “Locks Opened: Chesapeake Waterways in the Underground Railroad.”
“Water is important in every aspect of our life. And for slaves, no matter where you came from, if you wanted to get to freedom, you had to cross some water,” she explained at the beginning of her performance.
For the full article, pick up the latest Northern Neck News 2/27/19
Sheila Arnold gave a presentation on the horrific
struggles of the fight for freedom.