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Cynthia Davies Cunha: Struggling against continued racial intolerance, ignorance

To the editor:

The South Hadley Public Library sponsored a talk Feb. 12 titled, “The Underground Railroad in the Connecticut Valley.” The talk centered on prominent area abolitionists from the early 19th century and their role in the path that African-American slaves took to freedom. Of note was the speaker’s (Steven Strimer of the David Ruggles Center in Florence, www.davidrugglescenter.org) contention that Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas worked — toward the freedom of all peoples — right here in the Pioneer Valley. Specifically, Florence was a hub of abolitionist activity in the early 1830s.

Strimer detailed accounts of area residents’ efforts to “do the right thing” and the repercussions they faced. It seems that not everyone in the Pioneer Valley, or even in Florence, agreed with abolitionists’ efforts.

More than 125 years after Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass helped bring understanding of the plight of the victims of slavery to this area, my racially diverse family settled here.

Again, not everyone agreed with that decision. The struggle continued; the necessity to serve as an example “to do the right thing” still continues. Only through ongoing exposure to the history of our area, through the efforts of people like Strimer, the South Hadley Public Library and all of us, will racial intolerance and continued ignorance be eradicated so that all of God’s people can learn to live in peace.

Cynthia Davies Cunha

South Hadley

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