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How Slaves Escaped to Freedom Using the Drinking Gourd!

88095_300We all know slavery as a horrendous act. THe abuse, the lynchings, the conditions were

all horrific. Well somebody with brains had to get together and formulate a plan

to escape. And they did.

Escaping slaves went north. Northern states like New York and Massachusetts had

strong abolitionist societies and benevolent groups that were black and white. These

groups helped slaves to escape. The slaves’ final destination was Canada, which is

north of the US border.

The North Star is also known as Polaris. It never changes position. It always

points toward North. People have used a collection of stars to help them find

the North Star. They have called this group of stars many names, depending

on how they saw the picture created by the stars. Sometimes people thought

the group resembled like a BIG BEAR. In fact, the Latin name for this collection

of stars was Ursa Major, or Big Bear.At other times, people thought the group of stars like a dipper

with a cup that used to have a very long handle. Slaves knew

this group of stars was called the Drinking Gourd. They occasionally

used hollowed-out gourds to dip and drink water. The gourds resembled

long handle cups. Two stars on the cup’s edge always point to the North Star.

By finding the drinking gourd in the sky, people traveling at night could

always find the North Star.

Escaping slaves like Harriet Tubman, James Pennington, and Josiah

Henson have followed the Drinking Gourd to freedom. Today people know

of a song called “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” It discusses people escaping

slavery by follow clues to go north to freedom. The song is a blending  of

old ideas and new words by many musicians.

I always knew about the Underground Railroad, but how many people

know about the Drinking Gourd song? I feel like more of it needs to be taught

about in schools.Many times stars will show the way.


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