The First Underground Railroad

Be Woke Presents Black History in Two Minutes (or so)

The Underground Railroad for many of us symbolizes the journey African slaves went on in the name of freedom. But, contrary to popular belief, the first path wasn’t south to north. Instead, it was north to south.

Spanish Florida was an independent entity and many enslaved Africans in the Carolinas and Georgia knew that if they escaped, they’d be granted asylum, as well as their freedom. For nearly a century, hundreds of slaves took the same journey south and crossed the border. However, in 1790, facing pressure from the United States government, Florida agreed to stop accepting slaves. This halted the passage for a moment in time.

In this episode of Black History In Two Minutes or So hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., with additional commentary from Hasan Jeffries of Ohio State University and Vincent Brown of Harvard University, we explore the starting point of a trail that led thousands of slaves to freedom. But to this day, the passage represents the extremes enslaved Africans would go to attain the life they knew they deserved.  [related episode: Fort Mose: The First All-Black Settlement in the U.S.]

Black History in Two Minutes (or so) is a 2x Webby Award winning series.

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Archival Materials Courtesy of:
• Alamy Images
• Historical Archaeology Program at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
• Getty Images

Additional Footage Courtesy of:
• Inkwell Films, Kunhardt & WNET


Executive Producers:
• Robert F. Smith
• Henry Louis Gates Jr.
• Dyllan McGee
• Deon Taylor


Produced by:
• William Ventura
• Romilla Karnick


Music By:
• Oovra Music


Be Woke presents is brought to you by Robert F. Smith and Deon Taylor.

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