Vincent Reflects on Day 1

Hi my name is Vincent Franchi. This is my first year at Bronx Lab School so therefore this is my first time going on this bike trip, which has been nice so far.

It has seemed like a very tiring day because of all the traveling that we had to do and most of us have been complaining. The complaining stopped a little because we had an awesome time at the hotel, which was located in Maysville, Kentucky, and the breakfast they prepared was great. All of us were getting seconds and thirds of the foods, which apparently was really good and I also enjoyed it. Josh, Rachel and Joaquin finished pretty quickly and ended up asking us to start finishing up but the food was too good to eat fast.

Our first location was the John Rankin House, which was not so big but was noticeable from a far distance and located on the top of a hill in Ripley, Ohio. To get to the Rankin House we had to walk up a steep hill then start walking up some stone steps that made each of us very tired. A lot of complaining was occurring and by the time we had reached the top of the stone steps we had to walk up some wood steps that led to the Rankin House. The hill that the house stood on was scarce and grassy. We got a chance to have a tour of the house, which was being remodeled back to its original form. The Rankin’s were abolitionists, which means that they fought against slavery and so what they did is they found slaves and hid them in their home but that was not the best idea so they were smart enough to hide them in a much safer place for the time being. The Rankin’s hid the slaves in the cellar beneath their house and in the barn. Bounty hunters were sent by the slave owner’s to capture the slaves and return them. When the Rankin’s caught the slaves the bounty hunters could not find them so they searched in other places. They managed to chase the slaves but the slaves always got away because of the Rankin family and John Parker who lived in the town of Ripley.

Our second location was the John Parker House, which was also in Ripley, Ohio. He was a slave who was taken away from his mother when he was very little and his mother did not want to let him go. His father was a white man who raped his mother but his own father sold him because he was a slave owner as well. At the age of eight, John Parker was bought by a doctor who had two young boys that John Parker often spent time with when he was not working. These two young boys were kind enough to bring John Parker books to read and this is how he learned to read and write. Slaves were not allowed to be educated and that was a slave law ordered by the president. The doctor’s children secretly brought him more stuff as well but when they did not get a chance to he would just decide to read the same book more than once and that lead to memorization. Because he was self-educated he became a very wealthy man who was able to buy is freedom. He also risked helping other slaves escape as well and he was very successful in doing so.

The last tour we took was at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The man who gave our bike group the tour was the historian who helped create and build the museum. He explained to us a lot about what happened to the slaves and his name was Carl Westmoreland. It was a very long tour and a lot of information was given. Carl told us a story about a slave woman who was raped even though she was married and that lead to many children being born.   He showed us how slaves were kept in slave pens and how they were shackled together.  He also talked a lot about how slavery started in Africa and Africans sold each other to Europeans because of tribal differences.  He asked us to think about what we do when we feel different from each other and how we all have to respect each other even though we might think differently.  The museum was really big and we watched a movie about John Rankin and John Parker and it was cool because we were just at their houses.  At the end of the tour, we saw a lot of quilts made by different women all having to do with the history of slavery.

Now we are at our first campsite and are looking forward to biking tomorrow but we are not looking forward to the heat.

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