Throughout African-American history walking has punctuated major social change events. There was the 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom, the precursor of the March on Washington. Two years later, in 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King led marchers on a 50-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, for the right to vote. But perhaps the single largest Walk to Freedom occurred before the Civil War when Freedom Seekers fled the tyranny of slavery to the promised land of freedom in the North.
In recognition of the National Civil Rights Museum’s commemoration of the MLK 50th Anniversary, I am planning a symbolic 400-mile solo-walking journey called Walk to Freedom, that will connect the historic Civil Rights Trail from Selma to Montgomery, trace the Underground Railroad and conclude at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
I believe by following in the footsteps of some of the original Freedom Seekers new pathways will begin to emerge, not only for my life, but maybe also for the lives of those I come in contact with on this journey.
The idea behind Walk to Freedom came to me after I finished walking across Massachusetts last summer and sensed that I needed to keep going. I heard the whispers of our ancestors in the words of the great Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman repeating: “Keep going, if you want a taste of freedom, keep going!”
This unique individual partnership proposal seeks the National Civil Rights Museum’s support during my 400-mile walk between Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham and Memphis. My goal is to arrive in Memphis on April 2, to participate in the MLK50 Where Do We Go from Here? Symposium. To reach this goal I will begin walking from Selma, Alabama on February 25, 2018 completing 100 miles a week to reach Memphis. Along the way I will visit schools, community centers, libraries, and churches to talk about my experience retracing the UGRR and what others had to endure on their journey to freedom. A major emphasis of the community component of Walk to Freedom will be discussing the importance of reading as a foundation for greater freedom.