In 1848, Mary Walker fled slavery and the plantation that is now Historic Stagville in Durham, leaving behind her son and daughter. She spent 17 years trying to recover her family.
Dr. Syd Nathans, professor emeritus with Duke University, tells of Walker's remarkable ordeal in the book "To Free A Family: The Journey of Mary Walker" at Historic Stagville on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2 p.m., and at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, on Monday, Feb. 13, at 11 a.m. The programs are free.
The tale of Mary Walker is representative of the secret labors of hundreds of women escaping bondage and trying to reclaim their families in the South. The story is also the basis for the Addy Walker doll in the American Girl doll collection.
Two extraordinary collections provide the basis for the story—the letters and diaries of Walker's former North Carolina slaveholders and those of the northern family who protected and employed her. In spite of her persistence and the assistance of black and white abolitionists, she was not reunited with her children until the end of the Civil War.
The programs are sponsored by the N.C. African American Heritage Commission, whose mission is to preserve, protect and promote North Carolina's African American history, arts and culture for all people. The AAHC is affiliated with the Department of Cultural Resources.
For additional information call Michelle Lanier at (919) 477-7103. The Division of
State Historic Sites and the Division of State History Museums are within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.