Norfolk State historian shines light on Virginia waterways’ Underground Railroad in new book

Cassandra Newby-Alexander’s new book Virginia Waterways and the Underground Railroad. (Courtesy of Hampton CVB)

Early next year, Norfolk State University history professor Cassandra Newby-Alexander will present her newest book, “Virginia Waterways and the Underground Railroad” at the Hampton History Museum.

In it, Newby-Alexander explains how enslaved Virginian’s searched for freedom using Virginia waterways. As part of the Underground Railroad, these waterways were home to watermen who assisted escaped slaves making 19th century Norfolk a “haven for freedom seekers.”

Newby-Alexander’s talk is part of the Hampton History Museums’ Port Hampton lecture series and the “Give Me Liberty: Fugitive Slaves and the Long Revolution Against Slavery” exhibit. Focusing on the time between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the exhibition investigates the lives of 30 Hampton slaves who escaped using Virginia waterways before taking up arms against their enslavers.

Newby-Alexander is a Norfolk native who received her B.A. from the University of Virginia and her Ph.D. from The College of William & Mary. She is the director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for the African Diaspora and an author of many publications. Her work can be found in books and biographical series and she has appeared on national television, including The History Channel and C-SPAN.

Museum members may attend the Jan. 8 talk from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for free. The cost is $5.00 for non-members. The Hampton History Museum is located at 120 Old Hampton Lane in downtown Hampton. A free parking garage is across the street from the museum. For more information call 757-727-1102.

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