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Walking the steps to freedom through Buffalo on the Underground Railroad

Ken Johnston from Philadelphia said, "it's good to be in Buffalo," as he crossed the 400-mile mark on the Underground Railroad route.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Walking artist Ken Johnston from Philadelphia reached Buffalo on his walk to freedom. He is retracing the route abolitionist Harriet Tubman and others took to escape slavery.

"This journey is to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Harriet Tubman's birthday," he said. A journey that he started in December 2019 in Maryland, but was put on pause by the pandemic in 2020.

"It  was supposed to be kind of a low key walk but then her story just kind of overwhelmed me and after completing the first 140 miles to Philadelphia, I wanted to keep going and that's what she said, if you want a taste of freedom just keep going."

Last year Johnston 2021 walked from Philadelphia to New York City. This year on July 14, he resumed the final leg in Harlem, NY.

Along the way he visited Tubman's gravesite.

Credit: Ken Johnston

If you see a man walking with a sign on his back with the words New York and Canada, then it's likely Johnston.

Buffalo is a special location for Johnston. His brother was one of the painters of a mural on Fillmore Avenue that says welcome in multiple languages.

As for this journey, Johnston said "I hope to just continue telling the story of what it felt like for the soul of souls that came this way,  the sensory experience, under their feet, however, they traveled here."

His journey ends this weekend at the Salem Baptist Church in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Johnston wants people to know the stories of those on the freedom walk.



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