Freedom Roads

Freedom Roads logo

Freedom Roads is a statewide trail system designed to:

  • Recognize the roads, rivers and ports in North Carolina that were crucial to the efforts of enslaved African Americans seeking freedom.
  • Recognize those freedom seekers whose stories testify to the indomitable spirit found in thousands who strove to be free.
  • Recognize those groups and individuals who supported and assisted the efforts of freedom seekers.
  • Highlight the story of freedom seeking via other avenues of liberation created during the Civil War. 

Freedom Roads Sites include designations in the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom (NTF) Underground Railroad program, as well as other sites and routes recognized by historians and/or archaeologists as significant to African American freedom seeking.


Network to Freedom: Exploring Agency, Resistance & Resilience of NC's Freedom Seekers

For enslaved people throughout the history of North Carolina and America, freedom was not something that was simple or gained overnight. And while we often think of slavery in only a binary (that people were either enslaved or they were free) below the surface of the brutal and inhumane period of chattel slavery, there was more complexity as well as community. From the enslaved North Carolinians who sought and/or defined freedom for themselves, to those free and enslaved who assisted freedom seekers in escaping, to the rich and complex communities that were formed between enslaved and free people, a wholly accurate understanding of this period must include attention to the various ways Black people strove to experience varied concepts of freedom through their individual and collective agency, resistance, and resilience.

In this seminar, hosted by NC African American Heritage Commission and Carolina K-12, along with NC Historic Sites, and in partnership with the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and others, we explore this rich history, including: North Carolina’s Underground Railroad network, the rich Maritime communities free and enslaved Blacks formed, maroon settlements, the role of North Carolina’s rivers in seeking freedom, the assistance of Quaker communities to freedom seekers, and the role of Black people in aiding and supporting one another throughout both enslavement and freedom.

Accompanying resources, readings and more are available on Carolina K-12's website.