A Choice of Nonviolence

"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a [hu]man, but you refuse to hate him [or her]." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

South Bend Tribune Reports on Unveiling Ceremony

Cassopolis mural honors freedom seekers.  Depiction of 1847 Kentucky Raid draws many onlookers.

By TOM MOOR,  Tribune Staff Writer

CASSOPOLIS — More than 150 years later, a group of slaves who risked their lives for freedom by leaving Kentucky for Cass County are being remembered.  And they will be for decades to come for anyone traveling through downtown Cassopolis.

A large 25-by-75-foot mural, called Sanctuary and Deliverance, depicting the group of 12 slaves who left Boone and Kenton counties in Kentucky in the spring of 1847, was unveiled Saturday morning in downtown in front of dozens of onlookers.

The event is referred to as the Kentucky Raid and was conjunctive of the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes that brought slaves in search of freedom from the South to the northern states.

When this group of slaves arrived in Cass County, they were welcomed with open arms by Quakers living there, but their fight wasn't quite over.

Soon after, slave seekers from Kentucky came to Cass County and tried to take them back. After narrowly avoiding a physical conflict, the Kentuckians and the slaves instead went to the Cass County Courthouse, where a judge charged the slave owners with trespassing, kidnapping and assault, and allowed the now-free slaves to stay. Many of them eventually made their way to Canada.

The conflict, like many that were ensuing in the country around the same time, was a piece of the puzzle that would eventually lead to the Civil War and the freedom of all slaves. The important historical moment is a source of local pride.

"It's an important historical event that had national implications," said Deanda Johnson, regional coordinator for the National Underground Railroad.  "You guys played a part in the starting of the Civil War."

The mural, which was started in the spring, was worked on by lead artist Ruth Andrews of Cassopolis. A $15,000 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council paid for the project. The Minority Coalition of Cass County also sponsored the event.

Andrews said the colorful mural — which was unveiled halfway through the ceremony as flashbulbs went off — is broken down into four scenes.

The first portrays three generations of slaves crossing the Ohio River at night, escaping the slave owners who had beaten at least one for attending church and threatened to take away their Easter celebration. The second scene shows the slaves settling into a cabin on Quaker land in Cass County, as the Kentucky raiders stormed into the home to challenge the family. One of the drawings is of a slave owner holding one of the slave's young children. "The Kentuckians tried to take them back," Johnson explained.

The third scene shows a mob, a mix of white farmers, Quakers and free blacks, approaching the Kentuckians. "But in Vandalia, they were stopped by a group of 100. It almost got into a physical altercation," Johnson said. 

And the final scene is of the Cass County Courthouse, where the slaves were afforded their freedom.

Andrews said it was an honor to work on the mural. "It's been a humbling experience," she said.  Johnson said the freedom seekers are "the reason for this history."

The celebration included singing by the Kentucky at Sunrise Community Choir, and a reading by the Cassopolis African American Club. The ceremony ended with a prayer and the singing of "Amazing Grace."

Alisea McLeod, the organizer of the event, said the project has been years on the drawing board, and was kick-started through the grants.  "This is a day for celebration," McLeod said. "It's a small, but historically rich community. It will be further enriched by the mural."

Staff writer Tom Moor:
tmoor@sbtinfo.com  574-235-6234

Many Thanks to Our Sponsors!

Thank you to the Minority Coalition for their sponsorship of the Sanctuary & Deliverance Mural project. The Minority Coalition provides educational opportunities, family values and promotes racial harmony for the people of Cass County.
See their blog at: minoritycoalition.blogspot.com
Support for this project was also provided by Michigan Humanities Council,
we are so appreciative of their sponsorship!
See their website at:
Information on Cass County's Underground Railroad is also available at: www.urscc.org

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sanctuary and Deliverance Unveiled!

The Minority Coalition is proud to share this poem, by a Cassopolis High School student.
Delivered, Now Free, was read at the opening unveiling ceremony, Saturday, October 23rd:

Delivered, Now Free

By: Ce’ Anderson

Have you heard?

Dey comin’

Dey a comin

Dey comin after me

Is I to be scared?

Why should I fear?

There’s more up here than I’ve ever seen

A Quaker on my side to hide me

Have you seen?

A white man,

Hunting like a spy,

Suspicious as can be,

Telling his men where to capture slaves on land that is free

Have you felt?

A mothers pain,

When they barge in and take her baby away

Did you hear that scream?

Making her come out from hiding,

Childless mother held captive now crying

Have you heard?

I’s not goin back,

They can’t make me,

We fought the fight,

We got the victory,

We kept the faith,

And we is free!

Have you realized?

A raid took place so we can be delivered from slavery,

So we could all live free,

Free from all the suffering,

Free to have integrity

Free to love

Free to breath

Free to live in unity

Free to be proud of Cass County

Monday, October 18, 2010

Parking options for the October 23rd Unveiling ceremony

Parking options:

The Kentucky Raid Mural is located at 150 South Broadway in Cassopolis, MI. There will be NO PARKING on the mural site the day of the Unveiling. There is limited on street parking on both sides of South Broadway.
The Municipal Parking lot is open for parking behind the Southern MI Bank & Trust Building on the corner of Broadway and State Street.

The VFW Post is another option for parking. The VFW Post is the inclement weather site and is located diagonally across from the mural site. Parking is accessible BEHIND the VFW Post by using the one street-South Rowland-(off MI #60). RESTROOMS are also available at the VFW. (Please THANK the VFW for their cooperation and support of this event)!

Additional parking is available open at the United Presbyterian Church located on MI #60 ( 209 E. State Street). This location is approximately 2 ½ blocks from the mural site.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Freedom Seekers respond to testifying in Cass County
Courthouse (as viewed through scaffolding)

Close up of young Cass girl from the
Kentucky Raid Mural in Cassopolis, MI