My Soul is a Witness: See Us Where We Are! Black Women and The Flight North
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They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of the people knew magic. And they would walk up on the air like climbing up on a gate. And they flew like Blackbirds over the fields.

 

— Virginia Hamilton

In 700,000 stunning steps let us direct your gaze. As Black women, we call to the east, the south, and the west and invite you to the north to see us where we are, on the Abolitionist Trail. Come bear witness to our enduring spiritual strivings, to the essence and the heart of Black women who continue to imagine every space with us fully in it. The secret network of the Underground Railroad that traverses Black Women’s Blueprint’s front door, in Boonville and Ava, NY northward to St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada is awe-inspiring. Twenty-five-year-old Harriet Tubman, the conductor of the secret network, based her operations in St. Catharines, eventually making her home therefrom 1851-1861,  just 15 miles from the U.S. border.

 

Imagine the magnitude of the calling that moved Black Women’s Blueprint north. My Soul is a Witness: See Us Where We Are! Black Women and The Flight North is a multimedia production that reengages storytelling, African drums, blues, jazz, resistance songs, and contemporary dance in a brazen and spellbinding exploration of Black women’s complex history of struggle and triumph in the north. Poets, activists and actors offer inspiring accounts about identity, agency, escape, intimacy, consent, violence and passing. We will speak of women giving birth and women being reborn in the arms of trees. We invite you to bear witness to our relationship to land and earth, root-knowledge and spirituality, our relationship to space–the subfloors and corridors, crevices and walls, the false bottoms of wagons, the routes, the homesteads and safe houses, the lanterns, the message quilts, the smoke of fires, the dogs, the guns and Harriet. 

 

Walk in the footsteps of allied abolitionists and Black freedom seekers journeying with us. Let us tell you what it must have been like for those who walked this land with sacred purpose, and the dangers that skulked the road for both Black freedom seekers and White abolitionist allies. In 700,000 stunning steps we immerse ourselves and bear our souls as witness to the sheer will of those who engaged the universe in their flight, who engaged the skies and the stars and the migration patterns of animals to safety, reading the earth and traveling by night and by lamp. Let us engage you in what ancestor, liberation-knowledge bringer, bell hooks calls “looking and looking back.” Indeed as “black women [we continuously] involve ourselves in a process whereby we see our history as counter-memory, using it as a way to know the present and invent the future.” If “history is written by the victors,” then let us write. Let us write those stories not yet written, the stories not yet in our books, stories not yet spoken and not part of the American consciousness. Let us tell the stories to which our souls have been witness. 

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Survivors Allowing Land to Facilitate Healing

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“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”

– Harriet Tubman

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Walk in the footsteps of allied abolitionists and Black freedom seekers journeying with us.

Let us tell you what it must have been like for those who walked this land in 700,000 steps with sacred purpose, and the dangers that skulked the road for both Black freedom seekers and White abolitionist allies. Join us as we immerse ourselves and bear our souls as witness in what ancestor, liberation-knowledge bringer, bell hooks calls “looking and looking back.”

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Tune in once a month: www.blackwomensblueprint.org /AbolitionistTrail

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Sign up to walk and learn more information about the walk in August: www.blackwomensblueprint.org /AbolitionistTrail
Click here to Sign-Up

Sponsor: A step (1 of 700k), a site (the new Museum of Women’s Resistance (MoWRe) 201 Main, the reconciliation center, or a marker. Click here to sponsor!

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JOIN US

starting Jan 18, 2022, the National Day of Racial Healing through Aug 13, 2022 on the Anniversary of Black Women’s Bueprint’s flagship, Restore Forward.

CALL FOR ARTISTS

We’re extending the tremendous opportunity and honor of your participation in our project: My Soul is a Witness: See Us Where We Are! Black Women and The Flight North, a multimedia production and exhibition foregrounding truth-telling about the Underground Railroad–the abolitionist trail that traverses Black Women’s Blueprint’s door in Upstate, NY. 

 

We’re looking for pieces that speak to Black women’s complex history of struggle and triumph in the north, articulated and presented from a first-person perspective. For more information and to submit a piece, email communications@blueprintny.org.

Image by Lee Pigott
Wild Path

HOW PLANTS WERE USED TO GAIN FREEDOM ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Our museum of women's resistance is a part of the International Sites of Conscience.