Events, UGRR

Great Escapes

A Commonwealth Speakers Presentation with Denise Valentine

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WILLIAMSPORT — As part of the Year of Learning and Focus on the Underground Railroad presented by Muncy Historical Society, the Blooming Grove Historical Society and James V. Brown Library will host Commonwealth Speaker Denise Valentine’s presentation “Great Escapes” at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 12 in the Library’s Lowry Room, 19 E. Fourth St.

The interactive presentation brings to life compelling stories of enslaved Africans who escaped to, and away from, Philadelphia and of those who aided them in their search for freedom. Philadelphia was an important station in the Underground Railroad and a safe haven for many fugitives, including Henry Box Brown. Conversely, many enslaved Africans escaped from Philadelphia, such as Oney Judge, a slave held by George Washington. 

Valentine uses the power of storytelling to interpret these historical subjects and highlight Philadelphia’s African American and Underground Railroad heritage sites. Also discussed is the role of storytelling in the continuity of community traditions. 

Valentine’s storytelling programs which are designed to appeal to all ages combine historical narrative with elements of African and African American cultural traditions. Valentine has traveled to South Africa as a storytelling ambassador with a grant from The Leeway Foundation of Philadelphia to study folklore traditions and the influence of politics on contemporary oral stories. As a professional storyteller, she is a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and has been a PA Council on the Arts storyteller-in-residence for Philadelphia public schools. She has performed hundreds of times for schools, libraries, museums and community organizations including teaching Folk Artist Residencies in the School District of Philadelphia. 

The presentation is free and open to the public. Registration is suggested but not required. To register or for more information, visit or call 570-326-0536.

This is the second of three presentations to be offered locally as a program of the PA Humanities Council, sponsored in part by a grant from the PA Historical and Museum Commission. Like the PHC, the Blooming Grove Historical Society and the James V. Brown Library are proud to co-host this educational program to bring the Lycoming County community together to learn and share history. “Searching for the Life of Harriet Hemings” with Catherine Kerrison will be the third Commonwealth Speakers’ Bureau presentation of 2014 and is being co-hosted by the Lycoming County Genealogical and the Lycoming County Historical Societies on Aug.t 2.