It makes sense that the nation’s only major annual conference about the Underground Railroad happens in Philly.
The city was a frequent stop for abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and played a large role in the network taking Black Americans from enslavement in the South to free lives up North.
Temple University has held the one-of-a-kind academic gathering centered around the pipeline to freedom for 17 years now, thanks to organizing professor Nilgün Anadolu-Okur. Free and open to the public, the Underground Railroad and Black History Conference celebrates figures who made it happen, such as Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Philly’s own William Still and Lucretia Mott.
“I think Temple is setting forth a model with this conference,” said Anadolu-Okur, a professor in the Department of Africalogy and African American Studies. “It will be a major event.”
This year’s theme focuses on translating past learnings for future generations: “How do we teach Black history in the digital age?”
Anadolu-Okur launched the event in 1994 after she was inspired by a portrait of a woman she soon discovered was Harriet Tubman.