Ridgley, Maryland – May 1, 2011 – As evening descended on Caroline County Saturday, an inquisitive group of about 20 people eagerly walked into the thick hardwood forest at the 400 acre Adkins Arboretum. Slowly the sun dropped below the horizon of the Western Shore, plunging visitors to this preserved natural habitat into a deep darkness. But they weren’t bothered for this strengthened the understanding of the subject they were considering on this fine spring Eastern Shore evening while strolling over creeks and past meadows.
In this native environment, a spring chill quickly setting in, Anthony (Tony) Cohen, a historian whose scholarship focuses on the Underground Railroad, vividly illustrated how the natural landscape provided opportunities for hundreds and possibly thousands of slaves to attain freedom. Building on the vistas in the preserve, Tony noted how the habitat at the Arboretum reflected conditions slaves passed through en route to freedom.
This was a powerful presentation and Tony created situations that involved tangible sorts of reflections on the past for all of us. He’s an outstanding guide and teacher, personably engaging everyone in the group. The lessons were powerful, exactly the way the study of our heritage should be presented for 21st century audiences. We’ve attended many lectures on the Underground Railroad, but we’ll remember the details of this active learning program for a long time thanks to the way Tony involved the audience with this subject.
Also congratulations to the Adkins Arboretum for producing an excellent program, and filling a needed niche in the area with quality, new programming and delivery. This program introduced us to this excellent place for regular visits on the Shore. We’ll be back often for its an enjoyable spot to stroll, watch the changes of the seasons, and hear programs presented by the park naturalists.