When you think about the Underground Railroad, you might conjure up images of people of color escaping from plantations in the deep South making their way on foot in the cover of night, or in wagons provided by people who supported their quest for freedom.

There was another means of escape, though, that we don't often think of: boarding sailing vessels and making their way to freedom over the water.

According to Professor Timothy Dale Walker, many enslaved people found freedom by boarding vessels and sailing to sympathetic ports along the Atlantic seaboard. In many cases, says Walker, they were more successful than those seeking to escape using overland routes, who were often tracked down and captured.

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Professor Walker teaches history at UMass Dartmouth and joined me this week on Townsquare Sunday. He and nine other writers and researchers have contributed essays to a book entitled Sailing to Freedom: Maritime Dimensions of the Underground Railroad. Walker served as editor for the book, which was published last year by the University of Massachusetts Press.

The book highlights little-known stories and the less-understood maritime side of the Underground Railroad. During his interview, Walker also discussed the importance of ports like New York, Boston and New Bedford, and their role in providing jobs for those escaping slavery, or assisting them reach other locations to find a new life.

Professor Walker will be taking part in a Library of Congress panel discussion on February 23 about "The Maritime Underground Railroad." It will air on the Library's YouTube channel at 7 p.m. as part of its observation of Black History Month.

Professor Timothy Dale Walker's Townsquare Sunday interview can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public affairs program, airing each Sunday morning at 6 and 11 a.m. on 1420 WBSM. The program highlights individuals and organizations working to make the SouthCoast a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at jim.phillips@townsquaremedia.com.

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