Portland Freedom Trail, then add this outing to your summer to-do list. While the Freedom Trail in Boston features Revolutionary War-era history, Portland's Freedom Trail maps onto the landscape the history of another kind of freedom - freedom from slavery.
Each of the sixteen mapped stops on the trail in downtown Portland pinpoints an important site or person in Maine's chapter of the history of abolitionism and the underground railroad. If the names Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Sojourner Truth sound familiar, you may be surprised to learn that they all visited and lectured publicly in Portland, as well as corresponded with the African American and white abolitionists who lived here. The trail helps Mainers and visitors discover these hidden histories (below).
The artwork of Portland artist, Daniel Minter, crowns each granite marker along the Portland Freedom Trail. The markers provide visitors with signposts to people and places of the past. Minter's designs, transformed into bronze plaques (see right), help us don "time traveler glasses" of sorts. Each plaque depicts scenes and the accompanying text relates the history. As these King Middle School students demonstrate, Minter's plaque designs generate the ideal opportunity for educational rubbings.
King Middle School this spring as part of the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum's Civil War and Underground Railroad curricular program that kicks off the Sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War. The Abyssinian Church, built in 1829 as Maine's first African American congregation, was one of the sites that we visited on one of our field trips.
As part of their expedition "Small Act of Courage,"students raised money to help support the renovation of this nationally-significant landmark. During their stop at the church, the seventh graders presented their donation to Abyssinian committee members (below).
By taking a stroll on the Freedom Trail, you too can discover some of the hidden chapters in Portland's history and help preserve some of our priceless treasures, such as the Abyssinian Church.