Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to one and all! Perhaps you aren't an American - Happy MLK Day to you anyway. As you can imagine, the web is filled with information about the man. A good spot to start when looking for information about him is The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute whose webpage is here
. Even those who know very little about King generally know about his "I Have a Dream" speech which he delivered on 28 August 1963. (See above pic.) It is truly a fantastic piece of speaking and you can listen to it and watch part of it at the American Rhetoric
But King was just one person in a great movement that started long before him and continues today. The Library of Congress has an exhibition called "The African-American Odyssey"
which examines the lives and contributions of African-Americans throughout the history of our country from Slavery to Civil Rights. I found this site
which gives a broad history of the Civil Rights Movement starting with the Dred Scott
case in 1857 continuing through the mid 1970s and school integration. The National Park Service has put many sites on the National Register of Historic Places relating to the modern Civil Rights Movement and they're detailed at the NPS webpage
On a more personal note, I found out a few years ago I was told that there was a stop on the Underground Railroad
in the Chicago neighborhood
where I grew up. Closer to my current home here in Madison, WI is the town of Milton which featured a stop on the Underground Railroad. It is Joseph Goodrich's Milton House
.Prior to the Civil War, runaway slaves were given safe haven in the basement of the Milton House. Runaways entered through the cabin to the rear of the inn and then through a trap door in the cabin's floor to the dirt tunnel that led to the basement of the inn. In 1864, Mary Schackelmann Meyer was worked in the dining room of the Milton House and took runaways in through the cabin, through the trap door and the tunnel to their hiding place in the basement (L. Lukas, unpublished term paper, 1981).
"Milton's underground tunnel which is also unique in the nation for being the only segment of the Underground Railroad that was actually underground and has retained its identity and is open to the public. There are rumors of others but none of them are available for inspections (Dr. Rachel Salisbury, unpublished notes, 1972)."
...Mr. Goodrich who was operating an inn a few miles away [from Janesville] had no such security. He had no idea whether the people who came and signed their names in his register were Abolitionists or non-Abolitionists, whether he could trust them or whether he could not trust them. And so he had to devise an entirely different method of helping the slaves to escape. . . . He cared for them quietly in the basement [of the inn] where they could eat and rest and get ready for the next stage of their journey. But if the alarm were sounded here, his method of helping the slaves to escape was to have them crawl through his tunnel which came up under the log cabin at the back of the house through the trap door in the floor and then they could get away down to Storrs Lake and go on up through bowers lake to the Otter Creek area and get out to Lake Koshkonong and keep on their northward journey to Fort Atkinson or where they were going next. He could not, under any circumstances, bring them through the inn because he did not know whether he could trust his patrons or not (Dr. Rachel Salisbury, unpublished notes, 1972)."
More info on the Underground Railroad here in Wisconsin can be found here
with more here
. Also from the pages of Wisconsin history is the story of this man:
He is Joshua Glover, a runaway slave who sought asylum in Racine in 1854.The Glover episode became a celebrated case elsewhere than in Wisconsin; here it stirred public excitement to fever pitch and profoundly affected the course of future events in politics. Joshua Glover was a runaway slave, who sought asylum in Racine in the early part of the year 1854. Racine was a way station on the route of the underground railway, and the abolition sentiment had made considerable headway among its people. The colored slave found employment in a mill. Learning his whereabouts, the Missouri master of the slave, one B. S. Garland, procured a process in the United States District court and proceeded to Glover's shanty in company with two deputy United States marshals...Sherman M. Booth, editor of The Free Democrat, who took a leading part in the courthouse meeting, according to popular account of the affair rode up and down the streets on a white horse summoning the people to gather, shouting the rallying cry: "Freemen, to the rescue!" Mr. Booth, in a recent address, denied many of the statements that have remained unchallenged for more than forty years. He said that he did not shout "Freemen, to the rescue!" and that he never advised the forcible rescue of Glover. What he did say was: "All freemen who are opposed to being made slaves or slave-catchers turn out to a meeting in the courthouse square at 2 o'clock!" Ringing resolutions were adopted insisting on the slave's right to a writ of habeas corpus and a trial by jury. A local judge issued such a writ, but the refusal of the federal officers to recognize its validity led to the battering in of the jail doors..."
You can read about Glover's story at this page
at the UW-Madison Libraries website.