During Black History Month it might be instructive (and fun) for our library patrons to experience the underground railroad through an online video game. Mission US, in conjunction with WNET Thirteen, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, has such a game: "Flight to Freedom." Here's a promo trailer that shows us what to expect.
To play the interactive video game, visit the Mission US website and choose Mission 2. The game immerses the player in the escape of a 14-year-old Kentucky slave named Lucy. You become Lucy. Your decisions determine if she escapes bondage. There were many perils fleeing slaves faced travelling the Underground Railroad, and by playing this game, you, too, will face these dangers. Who can you trust? How will you manage to meet basic biological survival needs in unfriendly territories? Will you reach freedom?
Interactive gaming such as "Flight to Freedom" fuels learners' interests in history and brings the past into sharp focus for modern students. There is no substitute for "being there," even if "there" is simply a computer simulation.
P.S. Television viewers first became "eyewitnesses" to historical events watching the television series You Are There (1953-1957), hosted by famous news announcer Walter Cronkite. On April 17, 1955, the audience witnessed issuance of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863). I couldn't find a video clip from this episode (or the entire original series, amazingly), but here is a clip from the revival of the program when it aired Saturday mornings on CBS (1971-1972), which I watched when it was first broadcast. This episode took viewers to the siege of the Alamo.