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[Virtual] McLib Live – Escape to Freedom: The Role of the Steamboat in the Underground Railroad
Local historian Richard Parker will speak on the steamboat’s role as a means of escape in the Underground Railroad.
Paducah is located on the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, which acted as an interstate for slaves moving North seeking their freedom. Thousands of slaves worked on steamboats on waterways throughout the South. These rivers provided slaves a quicker and easier escape than venturing overland. Paducah and other riverport cities along the Ohio River played a significant role as logistical points furthering slaves in their journey to freedom.
Parker is the author of The Wild World of the Jackson Purchase and several articles that have been published in the Jackson Purchase Historical Journal. He is the Vice-president of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society. In 2019, the JPHS won a Kentucky History Award for volunteer organization of the year. His most recent contribution to the Society’s Journal won the 2019 Dr. Lonnie E. Maness Award for the most outstanding article. The 2019 Journal was awarded a Kentucky History Award in November 2020. Parker is currently writing his second book, which focuses on the Buckskin Bill’s Wild West Show. As an academic, Parker has studied history, earning an undergraduate degree from Murray State University and a master’s degree from Western Kentucky University.