The Underground Railroad to Black Scranton 

This theme explores Scranton’s Black history, including nearby Waverly, Pennsylvania as an outpost of the Underground Railroad, and the trials and triumphs of the Black community in business, housing, arts, and culture.

The significance of Scranton’s Black History in U.S. Black History will be explored, including Black Americans who migrated to the area during the Civil War era, prominent roles and positions held by Black Scrantonians, and institutions such as Bethel AME Church that served as cultural meeting places. It will also explore challenges faced by these communities, particularly in how Black neighborhoods underwent redevelopment that resulted in community dispersal and fragmentation.

Events will address not just what we know about local and national Black history but also how we know it and how we tell it, from our first President, the institution of slavery and the Underground Railroad, through the civil rights movement and the realities of racism in the North, to the experiences of Black communities in Scranton with a focus on the role of Black people in their own liberation. Black Scrantonian oral histories will be previewed connecting local and national Black history.

Events & Activities 

Events for this sixth project theme will take place from January 2023 – March 2023.

Theme events will include a film screening with table talk dialogues and a panel discussion with guest humanities scholars in Black history. 

Humanities Resources 

Daniel Pierce Bergin’s PBS documentary film Jim Crow of the North