Connect with us

Local News

Philadelphia man retraces steps of Harriet Tubman, stops in Rochester



Rochester, New York – As a part of his 500-mile journey to honor the 200th birthday of Harriett Tubman, a Philadelphia man made a stop in Rochester on Monday.

Ken Johnston is in the process of retracing the steps the abolitionist and activist took to get her brothers to safety in 1854.

Tubman, born into slavery, is famous for not only escaping but returning to the south several times to help friends and family escape as well, through a series of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.

Johntston’s walking journey has taken him from Poplar Neck, Maryland up to Rochester, and will continue to St. Catherine, Ontario.

“I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, Black and white, who have opened their doors, opened their pockets to help me along this journey,” he said. “And that’s what they experienced 200 years ago. It was an effort by Black and white abolitionists, reformers, and men and women of all ages that were helping these people move forward to the Canadian border, and across.”

Johnston split the walking trip into three legs — Maryland to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to New York City, and New York City to St. Catherine.

According to Johnston, during his journey, many of the people he’s met are surprised to learn that his journey has led to their area.

“For many people when they see me walking through, that’s the first time they realize the Underground Railroad ran through their community,” he said. “I’m not walking the exact route of Harriett Tubman — we don’t know what that is — but we know she passed through this area. We know that freedom seekers passed through this corridor of freedom.”