Members of the Free Them Walk team will arrive in Peterboro at 10 a.m. Monday, May 31, 2021, to tour the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum. The Team started its 900-mile walk in Lynchburg, Vir., and plans to finish the walk in Buffalo June 19, 2021, in time for the Juneteenth Festival.
The FreeThemWalk Team follows many of the Underground Railroad paths of the network that provided aid and safe houses to enslaved peoples heading north to escape slavery in the south. Hundreds of freedom-seekers found support and escape in Peterboro the first half of the 19th century.
The Free Them Walkers recognize that human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and there are many victims in the United States. To help stop human trafficking, the Team educates others about the crime and informs them how to identify and help victims. The Free Them Walk is made of a group of modern-day abolitionists who spread awareness to light a path toward freedom for enslaved people today.
“Human trafficking is personal to me,” said Kelly Diane Galloway, founder of the international humanitarian organization Ramp Global Missions and principal organizer of the walk. “I’m on the third generation in my family not born on a plantation where people were enslaved. My ancestors were trafficking victims, bought and sold for labor, bought and sold for sex, bought and sold for medical experimentation, bought and sold for entertainment.
“Our ancestors were human trafficking victims. That’s why it’s so important to connect those things together because slavery never stopped.”
The Free Them Walkers are filming a documentary as they walk their 30 miles per day. Along the way, they will be making visits to meaningful places, such as the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence in Albany, the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro, the Harriet Tubman Residence in Auburn and the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center in Niagara Falls.
The Free Them Walkers appreciate the fact that so many people are interested in joining walkers on their daily journey and encourage folks to follow via social media. Due to Covid-19 precautions and other safety measures that have been put in place over a two-year planning period, the Free Walkers do not invite people to join for the entire walk but say supporters may join them at their own risks at one of the major stops listed at thefreethemwalk.com/the-route.
The exterior interpretive signage at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark is open dawn to dusk for people who respect the property and safe health practices. The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Sundays July 11 through Aug. 29, 2021. For more information, visit: PeterboroNY.org, NationalAbolitionHallofFameandMuseum.org, info@GerritSmith.org and firstname.lastname@example.org.