William Still: Film and Discussion

The Underground Railroad: The William Still Story – Film & Discussion


willstllThe film blends stories, characters and context with evocative reenactments, new historical perspectives and sometimes shocking accounts. The predominant “voices” in the documentary are those of William Still and a selection of freedom seekers whose stories help define the era. Their actual words are often used, taken from letters and memoirs.

William Still was chairman of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, a secretive organization that offered runaway slaves desperately-needed assistance.  Still was among the most significant figures in the abolition of slavery

The Underground Railroad, a complex network of freed slaves, white abolitionists, sympathizers and safe houses that stretched from Philadelphia to what is now southern Ontario, delivered and estimated 40,000 men, women and children from bondage. Still carefully interviewed fugitive slaves who came to him for help, recording where they came from, the names of family members and how they escaped.

His book is regarded as the most authentic account of some of America’s most heroic stories. It was an extraordinary risk to keep such records, risking his own freedom to be able to tell the stories of those who had the courage to run.

While there is no denying the contribution of white abolitionists, particularly Quakers, the evidence shows that in an overwhelming number of cases the “conductors” operating these safe houses were themselves former slaves, or the children of former slaves.

The film is 60 minutes and will be followed by a discussion on the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, how that experience relates to the Civil Rights Movement 100 years later and to issues today. The Underground Railroad is an amazing example of a grass roots, mass movement of people confronting oppression, taking action, and changing the world we lived in.

This Program is free, open to everyone and will take place at:

Monday September 29, 5:30pm
Walnut Street West Library
201 S 40th Street

Tuesday September 30, 7pm
Community Education Center
3500 Lancaster Avenue

Thursday October 2, 5:30pm
Breslin Training Center
1199C Hospital Workers Union
100 S. Broad Street, 10th floor

Saturday October 4, 2pm
Wynnefield Branch Library
5325 Overbrook Avenue

Saturday October 4, 2pm
Lovett Branch Library
6945 Germantown Avenue

Sunday October 5, 2pm
Joseph E. Colman NW Regional Library
68 West Chelten Avenue

Sunday October 5, 2pm
First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
2125 Chestnut Street

Wednesday October 8, 3:30pm
Cecil B. Moore Branch Library
2320 Cecil B. Moore Avenue

Thursday October 9, 4pm
Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library
125 South 52nd Street

Monday October 20, 5:30pm
David Cohen Ogontz Branch Library
6017 Ogontz Avenue


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2 Comments » for William Still: Film and Discussion
  1. Nancy and John Cotter says:

    Do we need to register in advance?

  2. Kat Eyerly says:

    You do not need to register for the Film & Discussion. Just show up! 🙂