Speaking in Riddles, Singing in Codes
Thursday October 16, 2014, 1pm
Temple University, 1330 Polett Walk
Supporters of the Underground Railroad created their own codes as a secret language in order to help slaves escape. Code words would be used in letters to “agents” so that if they were intercepted they would not be understood. Underground Railroad code was also used in songs sung by slaves to communicate among each other without their masters being aware. We will examine 12 spirituals that are still sung in churches today and decode them for the guidance they gave to enslaved people who wanted to escape: Steal Away, No More Auction Block for Me, Highway to Heaven, Deep river, Wade in the Water, trying to Make Heaven My Home, Follow the Drinking Gourd, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass, I’m Going home on the Morning Train, Amazing Grace, Free At Last, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and we will end with the Ballad of the Underground Railroad. Participants include: Diane Brown, soloist, Laverne Williams, soloist, Kenneth Slaughter, last living member of the Wings Over Jordan Choir, Rev. Joe Williams who sung with the Dixie Hummingbirds and Kim & Reggie Harris.