Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Connecting the Underground Railroad with Immigration
Attended the Underground Railroad and Immigration meeting last night at the Arch Street Methodist Church in downtown Philadelphia. Interesting meeting. The important role that congregations of several persuasions in our city played in the Underground Railroad --providing sanctuary sometimes, helping escaping slaves to craft a new identity, meld into the free Black community in Philly, find work and a place to live highlighted for me some of the practical roles that congregations can play in accompanying immigrants. I loved the question by a member of the group, "was hiring an escaped slave a violation of the law?" The answer was "probably." It made me wonder about the potential of hiring so-called illegal immigrants as an act of civil disobedience. I was struck by the contrast between the heroic risk taken by "Conductors" on the Underground Railroad and the greed and betrayal that characterizes some of the "coyotes" who bring people across the south-western border today.