ROANOKE BUZZ: Finding Freedom

Published 2:16 pm Monday, February 4, 2019

As we learn about the Roanoke River’s connection to the Underground Railroad, it is interesting to note that our regional history includes people navigating both the land and water along the Roanoke in pursuit of freedom.

And there is so much more that we want to know about this compelling regional history.

To that we end, I am pleased to share that over the past few months collaborative partners have been making plans to host an Underground Railroad event. This event will bring together those interested in learning about our regional and North Carolina Underground Railroad history.

This collaboration has resulted in an upcoming symposium entitled, “Finding Freedom: Freedom Seeking and the Underground Railroad in North Carolina.”

This all-day event is scheduled for Friday, March 22nd and it will be held at the Halifax County Agricultural Center at 359 Ferrell Lane in Halifax, NC.

The program will start at 9:00 am; will include a full day of noted presenters along with lunch; and will conclude at 4:00 pm. Registration will run from 8:00-9:00 am and will include coffee and a light breakfast generously provided by Halifax County Tourism.

A pre-registration fee of $15 (total on-line fee $17.55) is required and will include breakfast, lunch and some related materials. On-line registration and more info can be accessed at or by calling (252) 583-7191.

This symposium is designed to provide evidenced-based information related to freedom seeking and the Underground Railroad in North Carolina. Additionally, it will be a great opportunity for us to share information about the current development of our own Roanoke River Underground Railroad Trail which has been made possible through a GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Ribbon of Hope grant.

As we planned for this event, we envisioned bringing together a diverse cross-section of scholars conducting relevant research with teachers, historians and community members interested in learning more about this North Carolina history. All interested are encouraged to pre-register and attend.

This symposium will be offered as an event of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission Freedom Roads initiative and is presented in partnership with Halifax State Historic Site, Roanoke River Partners and Friends of the Museum of the Albemarle.

Roanoke River Partners is pleased to be a partner for this event. As outlined in our mission, we continue to engage a growing list of regional, state and national partners to positively impact our region and, as always, we welcome those interested in joining our efforts.

We are hopeful that interested community members from Halifax, Northampton, Martin, Bertie and Washington as well as other surrounding counties will attend this Finding Freedom event in an effort to learn more about this topic related to current regional development. Additionally, we would particularly like to hear from community folks from the five counties named here if they have an interest to being involved in this development.

This event is a great example of how by working together we can develop our natural and cultural assets in ways that draw a growing audience to our region.

If you or your community or organization would like to know more about how to join our regional network of partners, we’d love to hear from you.

There is so much more we can accomplish working together!

Carol Jones Shields is the Executive Director of Roanoke River Partners, Inc. You can contact her at (252) 798-3920 or You can learn more about Roanoke River Partners at