“There was no room for slavery here.”

One of the reasons that I’m such a honk for the city of Rochester is her role in both the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements of the late-1800s. Once home to both Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony simultaneously, Rochester was a hot-bed for the progressive civil rights movements of the late 19th century.

There is an interesting article in this week’s edition of City Newspaper about Rochester’s role in the Underground Railroad. The city was a major hub for the illegal resistance movement, with an estimated 60 families risking their lives, property and possible imprisonment to provide shelter and security for refugee slaves making their way to freedom in Canada.

While reading this article, one of the things that really stuck out to me was the role the church played in illegally housing slaves and assisting their escape. It’s a shining example of what happens when everyday Christians take seriously God’s call for justice (Micah 6:8) and compassion for the “strangers among you” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

Whether or not you have any interest in Rochester history, this article is worth a read. It offers a great deal of detail about the history of the Underground Railroad as well as some insight into the economic, political and social conditions of the late-1800s.

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2 thoughts on ““There was no room for slavery here.”

  1. Good morning. I just opened my first bag of fair trade coffee (and it’s delicious)(http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/guatemala.mexico/)
    Your post makes me think of how immigrants are met with such scorn in recent days. If I do my bit in helping people make a living, they might never have to leave their tropical paradises to come here and make money for their loved ones back home.
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/september/31.96.html
    Today I happen to be starting a Saturday prayer meeting in support of our church’s ESL classes. Your post gives me encouragement!

  2. Wow. Cathy, thanks for a unique perspective! For whatever reason, I have never once considered the fact that – if we work to better the conditions in their own country – many immigrants would have no need to view America as their only hope of a better life. I would much prefer a world where moving to the United States was not the “end of the rope” solution for overcoming poverty and realizing economic equality.

    Also, props for buying fair trade coffee. In our house, the pecking order in our purchasing decisions is – #1: Is it Fair Trade certified? and #2: Is it organic? Nine times out of ten, a Fair Trade coffee IS organic because, well, third world countries can’t afford pesticides. I would rather make sure a farmer in Ecuador is getting a fair price for his labor than make sure no DDT-esque residue is entering my body.

    Also, and finally, thank you for brining up the issue of immigration from a Biblical standpoint. While I understand the country’s “the sky is falling” response to Mexican immigration, I am forced – as a Christ-follower – to consult the Scriptures and take into account their teaching on how the “person of God” is to consider and treat the “stranger among you.” Sadly, many Christians do not share God’s/Christ’s compassion on those looking for a better life than from where they came. (Proselytizing, sorry.)

    For comparison’s sake. Take what you’ve heard from the anti-immigration camp and compare it to the story in Exodus of the Jews emergence in Egypt. Tell me if you can imagine any similarities. (Exodus 1:6-10)

    “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

    Anyway…

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