The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center puts black history at the center of its programming all year round. During Black History Month, like throughout the year, staff and programs celebrate everyday heroes of the Underground Railroad and today.
That said, special programs are slated for February, including:
•“Second Saturday Story Time,” at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, in the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Atrium: February’s story time will feature stories of everyday activism.
•“Seeker Speaker Series” featuring Anthony Cohen, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, in the atrium: Patrick Sneed was a waiter at the Cataract Hotel who escaped slavery. After an encounter with bounty hunters, he was fraudulently charged with murder. His descendent, Anthony Cohen, will tell Sneed’s story, followed by a book signing of “The Refugee: Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada.”
•“Freedom Readers Book Club: Steal Away Home,” from 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Doris Jones Community Center: Participants will reas books about the legacy of slavery and fight for freedom. February's book is “Steal Away Home” by award-winning author and historian Karolyn Smardz Frost. A compelling work of narrative nonfiction, this book captures Cecelia Reynolds’ story of courage.
•“Black History Celebration” from 5-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in the atrium: Join in celebration of Black History Month with a new art installation by Iris Kirkwood, music, bites, and beverages. There is a $5 fee.
•“Seeker Speaker Series” featuring Karolyn Smardz Frost at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, in the atrium: Cecelia Reynolds came to the Cataract Hotel with her enslavers. One night, she slipped across the Canadian border to freedom. Smardz Frost is an award-winning author and historian who tells Cecelia’s story in the book “Steal Away Home.” A book signing follows her one-hour talk.
•“Black Expo 2019: An Entrepreneurial Extravaganza” from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, in the atrium. Admission is free, but standard admission applies at the museum.
The Community Health Center of Niagara and Niagara Falls Office of Economic Development/Niagara Falls MWBE program, in partnership with the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, will host the second annual expo for Black-owned businesses of all kinds. From restaurant and caterers, to clothing, jewelry and handbag makers, to fitness, health and beauty providers, to insurance agents, tax preparation and more, the event supports and celebrates local business, black history, and the Niagara Falls community.
Throughout the year, “Freedom Conversation Tours” are held at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. These tours are the Heritage Center’s signature program. Rooted in stories of the Underground Railroad in Niagara Falls, they spark conversation and offer a space to consider the relationship between race, human rights and freedom.
The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is located at 825 Depot Ave. W. For more information, visit http://niagarafallsundergroundrailroad.org/.