The Underground Railroad is a new TV series coming to Amazon Prime that turns the story of the real-life underground railroad into a real train that helps free enslaved people to freedom. The series, which is based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, keeps the same story as the story. Unless it’s on a train.
The series focuses on the journey of Cora, a young slave who escapes from a plantation and finds the railroad, which travels through several southern U.S. states to help transport its passengers north, where slaves are free. All the while, Cora is chased by a slave catcher named Ridgeway, who tries to hunt her down and bring her back to the plantation.
The show, directed by Moonlight director and Oscar winner Barry Jenkins, is brutal and hard to watch. But apart from the steam train, it is based on the reality that many enslaved people faced during the 1800s.
It is natural to have questions about the real underground railway and about its operation after watching the program. This is what you need to know.
What was the subway?
The real underground railroad was not a real railroad. Instead, it was a network of people offering refuge and helping southern slaves escape, according to the story. The goal of the railroad was to help the slaves escape to the north, where they could be free.
People who were called “drivers” help guide enslaved people and hide them in houses, churches and schools, which were called “stations” and “safe houses,” the story says.
According to PBS, about 100,000 slaves used the underground railroad to achieve freedom.
When was the Underground Railroad Formed?
It is not entirely clear, but history says that it began in the late 18th century and continued until the Civil War, which began in 1861.
As early as 1786, George Washington complained about how his slave people fled and was being helped by a “Quaker society, formed for such purposes,” according to PBS. In 1831 it was called the Underground Railway.
Where was the subway?
Enslaved people used to escape from border states like Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland, the story goes. Routes stretched west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa, or north through Pennsylvania and into New England. Some passed through Detroit in Canada.
The enslaved people further south used to have to travel alone until they encountered the northernmost railway, the story goes.
Who participated in the underground railway?
Underground railroad drivers were in black and white, and Harriet Tubman is one of the most famous. Originally, he escaped from a Maryland plantation and headed to Pennsylvania, History reports. He later returned to help rescue family members and others, and eventually freed more than 300 enslaved people, according to PBS.
Famous writer Frederick Douglass also hid enslaved people in his home in Rochester, New York, and helped 400 of them flee to Canada, the story says.
Many other people, mostly unknown, also helped the slaves achieve freedom from the underground railroad.
The Underground Railroad begins airing on Amazon on Friday.
The underground railway
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