Award-winning Dark Enough to See the Stars tells the fictional account of twelve-year-old Moses, who runs away on the Underground Railroad. Bloodhounds chase him as he follows the North Star to Pennsylvania. Before his mother was sold to a plantation in the Deep South, she had taught him to find the star. She had told him, “Never forget, Mose, you is named after Moses in the Bible. Someday you is goin’ to the Promised Land, just like he did.” Fueled by his mother’s hopes for his freedom, Moses is determined to reach Canada.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania he finds refuge with the Palmers, who also harbor a runaway teenage girl, Tillie. They do chores for the Palmers, and Mrs. Palmer gives them reading lessons. However, their freedom ends when the Fugitive Slave Law is passed, making it illegal to harbor slaves in the North. Offenders must pay a thousand dollar fine and serve six months in jail. Thus, the Palmers must help Moses and Tillie escape to Canada.
The Palmers arrange safe passage for Moses and Tillie to the next Underground Railroad station, but their plans are thwarted when the sheriff arrives at their home after dark, demanding the runaways. Will they ever reach Canada?
Although Moses and Tillie are fictional, many of the characters in Dark Enough to See the Stars are based on real people, most of them little known, who helped slaves to freedom. Famous abolitionists, Frederick Douglass and Thaddeus Stevens, are also in my story.
As I wrote Dark Enough to See the Stars, I learned a lot about the terrible institution of slavery. I also learned how different the national mindset was back then. Abolitionists and Underground Railroad workers were the radicals of their day, and found limited respect even among people who despised slavery. These workers risked their reputations and their lives to help courageous slaves reach freedom.
When we study about those who have gone before us we are less likely to repeat the mistakes of our past. History gives us perspective.