Jim Remsen on “Freedom-Seekers Turned Freedom-Fighters”
Local journalist Jim Remsen’s illustrated history talk, “Freedom-Seekers Turned Freedom-Fighters,” chronicles the experiences of a group of fugitive slaves who escaped southern bondage and dared to openly build new lives in the North. Once the Civil War came, these men and their sons left their safe haven in northeastern Pennsylvania and returned south, into the bowels of slavery, to fight for the Union. Their valor under fire helped to change many minds about blacks. Remsen’s new history book, Embattled Freedom, lifts these thirteen remarkable lives out of the shadows, while also shedding light on the racial politics and social codes they and their people endured in the divided North.
The fugitives’ safe haven was little Waverly, Pa., Remsen’s boyhood hometown. Now a Bala Cynwyd resident, and a retired editor and reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer, he spent several years researching this story as a way to bring some overdue tribute to Waverly’s unsung “colored troops” and the white abolitionists who stood by them. Embattled Freedom (Sunbury Press) has been praised by Lackawanna Historical Society director Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus as “a fascinating history that needs to be shared.” Mark Bowden, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down, Killing Pablo and his latest, Hue 1968, calls it “a fine example of serious local history, which fleshes out in particulars the larger social issues over a century.” For more, visit embattledfreedom.org.