The Willits Book Trust Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting presented books to a number of participants who attended “Crossings: Bridging the Authentic Underground Railroad Past to the Present,” a training event in Niagara, New York Sept. 11th – 14th, 2019, sponsored by the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, the Underground Railroad Consortium of New York State, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, and the Association for the Study of African American Life. [Read more…] about PYM’s Willits Book Trust Committee Honors Storytellers and Bridge Builders of the Underground Railroad
Willits Book Trust
In late October 2018, members of the Willits Book Trust of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Walton Burwell of Germantown Monthly Meeting and Lisa Stewart Garrison of Greenwich Monthly Meeting, visited with Dr. Carl Patrick Burrowes to prepare 250 copies of his book Between the Forest and the Salty Sea: A History of the Liberian People Before 1800 to be shipped to Monrovia. The committee enjoyed a delicious Liberian meal while enjoying their work. The boxes of books, a gift from the Willits Book Trust to people in Liberia, have been shipped abroad to coincide with the author’s return to his native land. Dr. Burrowes is visiting parts of Liberia within and beyond Monrovia to present copies of his book to thought leaders, educators, decision makers, and aspiring students. [Read more…] about Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea: Willits Book Trust supports Stories to Heal Liberia
On Sept. 28th, 2018, the Willits Book Trust of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting presented copies of the Autobiography of an American Slave to a group of Cumberland County College Equal Opportunity Fund Students at Historic Bethel Othello African Methodist Church in Greenwich, New Jersey. The students were taking part in a Freedom Tour, Freedom Seekers, Free People of Color and Communities of Faith in the Greenwich Area to explore Underground Railroad sites near Delaware Bay. [Read more…] about The Willits Book Trust Committee presents Books to Cumberland County Students in partnership with the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives
On June 15, 2016, Lisa S. Garrison presented a copy of William Still’s seminal work, The Underground Railroad to the library of the new Visitor Center of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, on behalf of the Willits Book Trust of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. The book, based on Still’s journals and published in 1872, details ways in which Philadelphia’s Vigilance Committee aided escaped slaves and documents the families, individuals and networks—including slaves and former slaves from Maryland and other southern states—who passed through the City of Philadelphia as part of the Underground Railroad. [Read more…] about Willits Book Trust presents Books to the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park and the NPS Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program
Catherine Bache, a high school senior and member of the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, developed “Faces of Freedom: Preserving Underground Railroad Stories, Preventing Human Trafficking” an interactive program that reveals an important yet often stereotyped aspect of our nation’s history, the Underground Railroad. Program participants journey through the event as free blacks with freedom papers and return to the south to meet an enslaved family member who was left behind, to assist him on his quest for freedom. Characters include slave-holders, Quakers, a bounty holder and free Blacks, among others.
Catherine presented her project at the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Conference on June 16, 2016. She was gifted with a copy of William Still’s book The Underground Railroad book by Lisa S. Garrison on behalf of the Willits Book Trust of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, in acknowledgement of the value of her work connecting the story of American slavery with myths and truths about present day slavery and the impact her project has on other young people. Catherine Bache is a recipient of a Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting.
Joyce Wright of the Mitchelville Preservation Project was presented with a copy of William Still’s The Underground Railroad by Lisa S. Garrison of the Willits Book Trust of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting at the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Annual Conference held in Hilton Head South Carolina, on June 15, 2016.
Before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, free Black people of Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island began creating a new self-governed culture as part of the Port Royal Experiment, setting a pattern for generations to follow. These newly freed citizens built homes on well-organized streets, participated in government by electing their own officials, established an economy, wrote laws, and organized mandatory education for their children. Quakers were among the abolitionists, philanthropists and missionaries (“Gideonites”) that visited Mitchelville to support the development of the emerging community. Even Harriet Tubman traveled to Hilton Head Island to learn from the example of Mitchelville, enabling her to share this story of Black agency and self- determination with others. By 1865, there were 1,500 free people of color living in Mitchelville. Many of their descendents remain on Hilton Head Island and in the surrounding region today.
Mitchelville has long been considered a shining star within the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor that now stretches from Wilmington, North Carolina to St. Augustine, Florida, forming the roots of African American contributions to the heritage of freedom in this country and retaining elements of African culture that exist nowhere else in the USA in quite this way. Today Joyce Wright, Charles Bogguess (Secretary of the Mitchelville Preservation Project and the recipient of the 2016 Robert G. Stanton Award), are joined by a vibrant group of volunteers who work to preserve and raise public awareness about this historically significant site in the Georgia Sea Islands. Mitchelville Preservation Project tells the story of the sacrifice, resilience and perseverance of the free men and women who established the first self-governed town of freed slaves in America.
On June 15, 2016, the Willits Book Trust Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting presented a copy of William Still’s seminal work, The Underground Railroad, to Gloria Ann Whittico, Associate Professor of Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, VA and faculty advisor to the Regent Chapter of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA). Regent University, founded by Dr. M. G. “Pat” Robertson, is an evangelical, non-denominational Christian University. Students from Regent’s BLSA Chapter tutor inmates of local juvenile detention centers to prepare and coach youths as they make their individual journeys towards literacy and freedom. The gift from Willits was presented in recognition of the dedication of Professor Whittico, the shared Christian heritage and social justice concerns of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Regent University and the activism and community contributions of BLSA students.