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Navigating The Stars: Carrying Black History Month beyond February

Amy Truksa, Director of the College of Idaho Planetarium, is prepping her presentation on how the slaves traveled north using the North star. (File Photo)

According to our calendars, today marks the last day of Black History Month. But, it doesn’t mean learning about black history has to end. College of Idaho Planetarium and Idaho Black History Museum have teamed up to give an in-depth look at how slaves escaped the south in demonstrations.

Navigating by the stars. That’s how slaves were able to escape the south traveling at night. Explorers, Lewis and Clark, people out at sea all share a common ground. Amy Truksa with the College Idaho says, it still works.

“The North Star always works, it’s a way to navigate. So it’s a skill that people are still taught how to use today and it’s a neat way really to connect to people before us,“ Truksa said.

Using the stars were critical in their ability to escape in the right direction.

“They needed to get north and find houses that were friendly, sympathetic to their predicament and help make their way farther north away from the potential of being captured and taken back,” Truksa said.

Along with the stars, slaves traveled using a coded quilt as a guide for survival during their travel. As Phillip Thompson with the Idaho Black History Museum explains, it was embedded with information in a disguise.

“Where to find refuge, where to find supplies where they could hide. What to watch out for, etc,” Thompson said.

History as we know it, is a blueprint of how we form society today. Remembering how we got here and what it took to end slavery.

“We’ve kind of molded into a false insecurity as far as this notion of, you know, we’re passed that. We no longer discuss how that’s such a intricate part of American history,” Thompson said.

The complexity of black history and modern day America is far beyond one month. Just like all cultures, you can’t tell one without the other.

“Because let’s be honest, black history is equally apart of American history as anything else,” Thompson said.

"Navigating the Stars" event will be held March 7th from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Star Branch Library

10706 W. State St.

Star, ID


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