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Repairs Completed To Underground Railroad Monument

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credit: Joel S. for hmdb.org

credit: Joel S. for hmdb.org

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Repairs have been completed to a monument to the Underground Railroad that sits along the Detroit riverfront.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. on Friday announced that the “Gateway to Freedom” monument was cleaned, several fixtures were re-secured and the area around the monument was repaired. The Downtown Development Authority project cost $30,000.

Earlier this year it was reported that someone tampered with a bronze plaque that’s part of the monument, which honors escaping slaves and the network of people that sheltered them. A small amount of graffiti also was removed from the monument.

The repairs were completed in time for last week’s International Gateway to Freedom Conference, which celebrates the Underground Railroad.

More about the Gateway to Freedom marker

The inscription on the plaque reads: “Until Emancipation, Detroit and the Detroit River community served as the gateway to freedom for thousands of African American people escaping enslavement. Detroit was one of the largest terminals of the Underground Railroad, a network of abolitionists aiding enslaved people seeking freedom. Detroit’s Underground Railroad code name was Midnight. At first, Michigan was a destination for freedom seekers, but Canada became a safer sanctuary after slavery was abolished there in 1834. With passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, many runaways left their homes in Detroit and crossed the river to Canada to remain free. Some returned after Emancipation in 1863.

The successful operation of Detroit’s Underground Railroad was due to the effort and cooperation of diverse groups of people, including people of African descent, Whites, and North American Indians. This legacy of freedom is a vital part of Detroit and its history.”

The monument, on the Detroit RiverWalk at Hart Plaza, can be reached from West Jefferson Ave..

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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