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Harford Community College History major Diana Harris presented the first in a series of lectures on the Underground Railroad on January 25 at The Havre de Grace Maritime Museum. Ms. Harris, who is interning at the Museum under the supervision of Prof. Jamie Karmel and Museum President Bruce Russell, delivered a presentation entitled "Songs of Freedom" as part of the "Other Voices of Freedom" lecture series, focusing on the Upper Chesapeake Bay and Lower Susquehanna region.

She discussed the songs of freedom and redemption from the era of American slavery, as well as songs about the Underground Railroad up through the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century. The lecture explained how "coding" found in the lyrics was designed to provide covert pathways to escape and freedom, impart information on the progress being made by abolitionists, and to give recognition of and encouragement to African Americans regarding their ongoing struggles. 90-some rapt listeners were in attendance, who actively participated in a lively Q&A session following Ms. Harris' engaging presentation.

The Maritime Museum was recently awarded grants from the Maryland Historical Trust, the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, the Joseph Robert Foundation and the Harford County Cultural Arts Board to research the Underground Railroad as it existed in the greater Havre de Grace area, Harford and Cecil Counties, along the Susquehanna River up to Wrightsville, PA, and all around the Chesapeake Bay.

The museum is developing a permanent interactive exhibit through the unique perspective of the roles played by the waterways in the slaves' road to freedom. Waterways provided a means of transport by boat on both the Chesapeake Bay and by ferry across the Susquehanna River. The estimated date of completion of the exhibition is this April or May.

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