Through Darkness to Light
Photographs Along the Underground Railroad
Princeton Architectural Press 2017
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in ArtNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PhotographyNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 23, 2017 James P. Stancil II
When the Sun comes back
And the first quail calls
Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd.
For the old man is a-waiting for to carry you to freedom
If you follow the Drinkin’ Gourd.
-“Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd” author unknown (possibly Peg Leg Joe)
They left in the middle of the night, often carrying little more than the knowledge to follow the North Star. Between 1830 and the end of the Civil War in 1865, an estimated one hundred thousand slaves became passengers on the Underground Railroad, a journey of untold hardship, in search of freedom. Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad (Princeton Architectural Press, 2017) presents a remarkable series of images following a route from the cotton plantations of central Louisiana, through the cypress swamps of Mississippi and the plains of Indiana, north to the Canadian border a path of nearly fourteen hundred miles.
The culmination of a ten-year research quest, Through Darkness to Light imagines a journey along the Underground Railroad as it might have appeared to any freedom seeker. A person who explores her photography in this work may get the feeling they were actually there during this tumultuous time in American history. Framing the powerful visual narrative is an introduction by the author; a foreword by noted politician, pastor, and civil rights activist Andrew J. Young; and essays by noted historian Fergus M. Bordewich, journalism professor Robert F. Darden, and black studies scholar Eric R. Jackson.
Author Jeanine Michna-Bales is a Dallas-based photographer. Her work explores the relationships between what has occurred, or is occurring, in a society and how people react to those events. She meticulously researches each topic considering different viewpoints, causes, and effects and political climates and often incorporates found or archival text and audio into her projects. Images from her Underground Railroad series have been exhibited throughout the United States and have appeared in numerous online and print publications. Her next book-length work will focus on the images and architecture of Cold War era nuclear fallout shelters in the United States.
James P. Stancil II is an educator, multimedia journalist, and writer. He is also the President and CEO of Intellect U Well, Inc. a Houston-area NGO dedicated to increasing the joy of reading and media literacy in young people. He can be reached most easily through his LinkedIn page or at james.stancil@intellectuwell.