Friday, March 18
PD Members get FREE admission! A $5 suggested donation is recommended for non-members. Not a member? Join at the door and you get in for free!
David Mackenzie House, 4735 Cass Avenue
Doors at 6:30, Talk at 7:00
In the late summer of 1843, a young woman stood on the eastern bank of the historic Detroit River, weeping and clutching the arm of the man who had escorted her to safety in Canada. In a panic, she asked if it were possible that she had crossed over the Mississippi River, and was back in Missouri. Lyman Goodnow, a white Milwaukee abolitionist, assured her that she was safe and the long journey was over. She had come over 1000 miles from St. Louis, Missouri through Wisconsin and around Chicago to Detroit, and now stood near the settlement of Sandwich, in Canada West. The 16-year old freedom seeker, Caroline Quarlls, had made it.
It started as individual, unorganized incidences of assistance to escape from slavery but became a sophisticated system we now know as the Underground Railroad. Detroit or “Midnight” was safety, a reputation gained as a result of heroic operatives who helped seekers obtain freedom in the city or in Canada, across the river.
Join us to hear about Caroline Quarlls and other Underground Railroad heroes in Detroit and the surrounding region as her Great Great Great Granddaughter Kimberly Simmons gives her U.S. National Park Service nationally recognized program of the Network to Freedom entitled, “Caroline Quarlls, A Family Legacy of Freedom.”
About Kimberly L. Simmons: With a diverse career, her life passion was realized in 2004 founding the Quarlls Watkins Heritage Project, followed in 2010 by the creation of the Detroit River Project Initiative.
An Underground Railroad and Mayflower descendant, she is the 3rd Granddaughter of historically significant Caroline Quarlls and belongs to a family who have been in Southeast Michigan area for over 185 years. Simmons is a Program partner of the U.S. National Park Service UGRR Network to Freedom. Her educational program “Caroline Quarlls, A Family Legacy of Freedom” was awarded national program status in 2005.
In 2015, Simmons was honored as a member of a VIP contingent to the United Nations celebrating the unveiling of the International Memorial to the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
In March 2016, Ms. Simmons will be a guest lecturer at the University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa discussing her work on researching and documenting the Underground Railroad experience in and around the Detroit Region and the goal of the Detroit River Project Initiative to have the Historic Detroit River nominated to UNESCO World Heritage site status. She has been asked to take part in a project of the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance led by the 2014 National Humanities Award winner, Everett Fly, as Hobson City, Alabama (the oldest Black founded town in the state of Alabama) works toward National Historic Site status.
Locally as the longtime former Chair of the Detroit Historical Society’s Black Historic Sites Committee, she was actively involved in the research and celebration of the African American experience in Detroit and as a former governor appointee to the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission. Ms. Simmons has spoken and lectured around the U.S. and Canada.
She’s a featured author in the Wayne State University Press volume entitled A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Freedom and the UGGR in the Detroit River Borderlands, published this February.
Our Third Friday Lecture Series is made possible by the generous donations of our members, to share the tales of Detroit’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, and architects and build support for historic preservation’s importance in revitalizing our neighborhoods.