Michigan Congressional Democrats Introduce Resolution Marking 16th Anniversary of International Underground Railroad Memorial Monument in Detroit

March 1, 2017

Michigan Congressional Democrats today introduced a resolution commemorating the 16th anniversary of the Detroit River International Underground Railroad Memorial Monument. The monument, established by the Detroit River Project Initiative, honors Detroit’s pivotal role as a crossing point into Canada for African Americans seeking freedom from slavery through the Underground Railroad. U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow introduced the resolution in the Senate. U.S. Representatives John Conyers, Dan Kildee, Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Michiganders played an important role in helping African Americans escape slavery. Detroit was a critical juncture on the Underground Railroad and one of the last stops before many found freedom in neighboring Canada,” said Congressman Kildee. “The Detroit River International Underground Railroad Memorial Monument serves both as an important tribute to those who risked their lives seeking freedom as well as a constant reminder of the work that remains to ensure equality opportunity for all.”

“Many African Americans risked their lives to escape slavery via the Underground Railroad, and the Detroit River marked a vital gateway to freedom and safety in Canada,” said Senator Peters. “The Detroit River International Underground Railroad Memorial Monument honors the legacy of both the people searching for their freedom and those who helped them along the way. I am proud to join my colleagues in honoring the City of Detroit’s role as a beacon of hope at a dark time in our nation’s history.”

“The Detroit River has played an integral role in helping passengers of the Underground Railroad on their way to freedom,” said Senator Stabenow. “As we celebrate the 16th Anniversary of the International Underground Railroad Memorial Monument, we recognize that there is still more work to do to ensure our nation’s promise that all are created equal.”

“During Black History Month, we are all reminded of the brave sacrifices of the men and women who fled our nation in order to secure their freedom,” said Congressman Conyers. “It is a painful moment in history, but a powerful example of the drive we all have to be free.  Detroit’s International Underground Railroad Memorial Monument is a year-round reminder that we must find the same courage and same thirst for freedom if our ideals are ever to be realized—if our nation is going to endure.”

“The Detroit River International Underground Railroad Memorial Monument stands as an enduring tribute to the brave individuals who fought for freedom and those who helped them achieve it,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “It also stands a poignant reminder of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, and our responsibility to continue working together to ensure equality for all.”

“In the United States, the road to freedom and equality has not always been easy. As we commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Detroit River Underground railroad monument, we are reminded of the strength of the human spirit to seek justice and equality even in the face of great opposition. We are reminded of a troubled past in our country that we must never repeat. We must continue to fight against efforts that would divide and weaken us as a country,” said Congresswoman Lawrence.

The International Underground Railroad Memorial Monument (IURMM) is a cross-border partnership between the United States and Canada that celebrates the history of the Detroit River as part of the Underground Railroad. Comprised of the Gateway to Freedom Monument in Detroit, Michigan, and the Tower of Freedom Monument in Windsor, Ontario, the IURMM opened in October 2001 as a way for the region to honor the sacrifices and the courage of those who fought to secure freedom for themselves, their families, and others.

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