Lewis and Clark Community College’s Underground Railroad Tour took off to explore the Alton area and it’s rich history, regarding the contested institution of slavery on Thursday, February 18.
Assistant Professor of History J.E. Robinson from St. Louis College of Pharmacy was the tour guide for the day, showing various locations while the bus took the group through downtown Alton and stopped at some of the historical landmarks situated around the city. The group was able to see some of the old houses in which escaped slaves used as havens while making their way toward a safe territory.
Although some people assume that history is just something in old books and boring classrooms, J.E. Robinson disagreed, saying, “History isn’t just a certain time and place. It teaches people that history is where you live, a lot important things happened in Alton.”
Robinson got more than a few laughs from the audience, who were very engaged with his presentation. He was also a very captivating speaker, capable of breathing life into the past surrounding Alton. Some of the important places highlighted included the Franklin House, which Abraham Lincoln used while he participated in the Lincoln-Douglas debate taking place in Alton, and the Lovejoy Memorial, dedicated to anti-slavery publisher Elijah Lovejoy who was martyred in Alton for his loyal abolitionist newspaper.
As the tour continued, Robinson shared his insight on the many stories surrounding the slave trade involving the Alton area. The tour also stopped at the Union Baptist Church, one of the oldest black churches in the area. Here Robinson talked about the different laws which were passed after the Civil War, segregating the community. Chelsea Haley, an L&C student, expressed her appreciation of his knowledgeable tour, and stated, “He is a very good speaker, and I was surprised by how much he knows, I love the Alton area.”
Some people may have missed the tour this year, but don’t worry! It is an annual event, and J.E. Robinson is currently working on setting up day-long tours throughout the summer.