February is Black History Month, and we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some ways to explore historical places tied to Black History in Jackson County. Did you know that Jackson County was a hub and destination for freedom seekers before the start of the Civil War? Michigan played a major role in the Underground Railroad, and Jackson County has many ties to this historic secret organization. Let’s take a look at some kid-friendly ways to learn about Jackson County’s role with Underground Railroad.

Stop One: 
Online Learning
There are many places online to do some kid-friendly explorations about the Underground Railroad. Online learning is a great starting point for getting some basic knowledge. We are sharing a few that have simple explanations or kid-friendly activities:
Britannica Kids
National Park Service Activity Book
Brainpop Video on Youtube

We also highly recommend the Jackson, Michigan Underground Railroad site based on the research of local historian Linda Haas. Visit this site at:
https://jacksonmiundergroundrailroad.com/

Stop Two:
The Library

After gaining some basic information online, head to your local library branch to find some children’s literature about the Underground Railroad. Reading a few books about this topic will help kids go deeper with their learning. Check out these highly regarded books that are available at the Jackson District Library (and some are available digitally as well):

Henry’s Freedom Box
Before She Was Harriet
Follow the Drinking Gourd
Almost to Freedom

Or visit this link for other juvenile titles about the Underground Railroad.

Stop Three:
Visit the County’s Historic Underground Railroad Locations

There is truly no better way to explore history than to visit locations in person! The Experience Jackson App provides a self-guided audio tour exploring Jackson’s stretch of the Underground Railroad. 

From https://www.experiencejackson.com/:

  • Experience the significance of the Underground Railroad as you go on the self-guided walking tour using the Jackson Underground Railroad app. Henry “Rufus” Evans will tell you about his journey on the Underground Railroad as he takes you around downtown Jackson to visit the historical locations that were significant to him on his journey to freedom.

The app is available for free in the Apple App Store and Google Play. More information about the app can be found here.

For more ideas on celebrating Black History Month with kids, check out these resources and ideas from PBS Kids.

Black History Month – Exploring The Underground Railroad With Kids

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