Walk to Canada Silver Anniversary
On May 4, 1996—25 years ago this week—historian Anthony Cohen embarked on a two-month-long journey to explore The Underground Railroad; the secret network, which thousands of enslaved Americans traveled to attain their freedom.
Cohen began his trek in Sandy Spring, MD, traveling a distance of 1,200 miles, by foot, boat and rail to his final destination in Amherstburg, Ontario, on July 7, 1996.
Cohen traced the steps of runaways along wilderness trails and waterways to Free Black communities and Quaker sanctuaries, while stopping in towns along the way to chronicle their stories through artifacts, documents and oral accounts.
Following the success of his first walk, Cohen embarked on second in 1998 traveling three months from Mobile, Alabama to Windsor, Ontario.
Cohen’s work inspired him to establish The Menare Foundation, Inc. in 1999, a national non-profit organization dedicated to “Preserving the Legacy of the Underground Railroad.”
Menare operates the Button Farm Living History Center—a 40-acre farm depicting 1850s plantation life in Maryland—and is home to the Underground Railroad Immersion Experience, a project designed by Cohen in 1997 to prepare Oprah Winfrey for her role as Sethe in the 1998 motion picture Beloved.
As we mark the Silver Anniversary of Cohen’s historic trek, we plan to commemorate this important work with special programs and events this year throughout the community.