Niagara Falls has played an active role in African-American history.

Between 1840 and 1860, slaves from the United States followed the, “Underground Railroad” to find freedom in Canada. This was not a real railroad but it was a secret network of routes and safe houses that people took to escape slavery and reach Canada, especially after the United States passed the “Fugitive Slave Act “in 1850. This act allowed slave owners to seek out and capture slaves in places where they would legally free, like Canada. Approximately, 30,000 slaves between 1800 and 1865 escaped into Canada from the US along this Underground Railroad from Fort Erie to Niagara on the Lake.

One of those slaves who escaped was Burr Plato who went on to establish the British Methodist Church built in 1836.The church is still here and located at 5674 Peer Street. It is now a National Historic Site. This well-respected gentleman went on to become the first elected black man in local government from 1886 to 1905.

To learn more about Black History go to the Niagara Falls History Museum at 5810 Ferry Street on Thursday evening, February 22. There will be a film showing, Middle of No Where. This film follows the life of a black woman on the path to self discovery.

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