Saturday, February 21

Give it back, a little bit deeper....

I never knew how exciting the Underground Railroad could be. I'm probably assuming too much, but I think every time we find a little more substance to our documentary, I feel empathy -- like a slave finding the next station, perhaps. It's so hard, yet so exciting. It almost doesn't matter that Hypoglycemia has left me no energy -- just the excitement behind this story is enough to keep me going (at least that what I keep telling my self). Anyway, today's point....I was following a lead on a safe house (a station on the UR where slaves were hidden -- usually during the day, waiting for nightfall to escape). This lead ended quite abruptly, as it also turned into a whole new avenue. I began at the local paper, the Elizabethton Star , then was transferred to a larger, also local paper, the Johnson City Press . My documentary group had been discussing listing a PSA (free article) with the Press, but I hadn't had time to finish or deliver it. One reporter, and then another, and another....And they loved it! They wanted to do an article on us. I think representing ETSU is a big enough deal, but this added personal research and newly uncovered local history to a simple little story.

The moral of the tale: no matter how much I've done so far, there's always more to be found. My hope with the article is that it will turn up more leads, allow more secret history into the public, and just maybe, help change a few attitudes. My concern, however, is the negative response....Our documentary is focused on the positive aspects of relationships between blacks and whites in east TN, and not the usual behavior. Although I'm learning that east TN may have been one of the most slave-friendly areas in the south (of course, not including Erwin), there's certainly still some confederate-attitude leftover. All I can say is that, I hope this article doesn't generate burning crosses for my lawn, but rather a healthy response including mostly substantiated claims, rather than mainly family stories. From Jonesborough, Elizabethton, Johnson City, Telford, we found the most leads, but now I think we're about to find out just how big the distribution is for the Press . So, check the paper on Sunday, and call me if you can help. Wish me luck!

No comments: