Sunday, November 28, 2021

International Memorial to the Underground Railroad, Detroit MI ~ September 2021

Installed in 2001 on the Detroit River, the Gateway to Freedom sculpture was created by Ed Dwight and stands 10 x 12 feet. It depicts eight escaping slaves guided by a conductor, modeled after George DeBaptiste. George was born free in Virginia to African-American parents and as an adult moved to Indiana and helped bring escaping slaves to Kentucky. Later he moved to Detroit and assisted freedom seekers across the river to Canada (his life story is fascinating, fyi).
Historians estimate that about 45,000 escaping slaves passed through Detroit on their way to Canada, Detroit serving as one of the last terminals of the Underground Railroad.
There is a companion sculpture (Tower of Freedom) across the river in Windsor, Canada, also by Ed Dwight, that we haven't had the pleasure of visiting yet.
(Besides being a well-known sculptor, Dwight was an air force jet pilot in 1962 when President Kennedy nominated him as an astronaut trainee. Dwight would have been the first African-American astronaut. After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, NASA dropped Dwight from the program.)
Ed Dwight has two other well-known sculptures in Michigan: Rosa Parks in Grand Rapids and an  Underground Railroad sculpture in Battle Creek.
Battle Creek
Today it's more important than ever to remember our history.
(See the link below for photos and information on the largest Underground Railroad Sculpture in the U.S.)

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