In the mid 1800s, Detroit became a beacon of hope. It was the last stop in a long journey for fugitive slaves before crossing the river to Canada and freedom. There are numerous historical sites in Detroit that have maintained their original sanctity to preserve African-American history. They not only tell the story, they take you back in time to experience the moment.
An estimated 200 Underground Railroad stops were discovered in Michigan between 1820 and 1865. A number of these stops were located right here in Detroit.
The First Congregational Church of Detroit played a crucial role in the national anti-slavery movement. Refugees were hidden in the church until being led to boats on the Detroit River. Take part in an Underground Railroad Flight to Freedom Tour.
Upon leaving First Congregational Church, you will pass Second Baptist Church, another Underground Railroad historic site. From 1836 to 1865, Second Baptist sheltered and fed 5,000 fugitive slaves. The Underground Railroad Tour takes visitors by murals and exhibits and also stops in the basement room known as the Croghan Street Station.
No place captures the story of slavery, African-American heritage and black history like the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. See the And Still We Rise: Our Journey through African American History and Culture exhibit, which takes you through realistic African markets, a former holding cell, the Door of No Return display and a replica slave ship. Next, you will hear stories of African-American triumphs, including escapes to freedom as well as more recent successes of local African-Americans.
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is a hub of American innovation and history. Come see the actual bus that Rosa Parks made famous in Montgomery, Alabama, when she refused to give up her seat. Next door at Greenfield Village, experience 300 years of African-American stories. Walk inside the Hermitage Slave Quarters, the actual dwellings of two slave families on the Hermitage Plantation near Savannah, Georgia. And visit the building modeled after the Missouri slave cabin where famous botanist and inventor George Washington Carver was born.
Other Historical Sights & Monuments
- Finney Barn Historical Site at the corner of State and Griswold in Capitol Park.
- Tower of Freedom/Underground Railroad Monument 200 Pitt St. E., Windsor, Canada
- Sandwich First Baptist Church was the first stop of the Underground Railroad in Windsor, Canada.
- Detroit Urban League at the corner of Mack Avenue and John R.
- St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church 6114 28th St.
- William Lennane Home at the corner of Brush and East Ferry in Detroit’s Cultural Center.
- Elmwood Cemetery is the final resting place of William Lambert and many other abolitionist supporters.