A look into slavery’s past

Missouri man travels country to share history


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Father Moses Berry speaks to an audience at St. John’s Orthodox Church in Eagle River on Thursday, Aug. 2.

MIKE NESPER

Last week, a few dozen Eagle River residents were transported back to the 1800s.

Quilts that told slaves how to navigate the Underground Railroad as well as harnesses used to transport slaves were only part of a two-hour lecture from Father Moses Berry at St. John’s Orthodox Church on Thursday, Aug. 2.

Berry, who founded the Ozarks African-American Heritage Museum in Ash Grove, Mo., said some of the artifacts he brought to Eagle River had never been outside the museum.

“This is kind of a little treat,” he said.

But it was worth bringing them the 3,600 miles from his home, Berry said.

“These people are my orthodox brothers,” he said.

Berry’s collection of slave-era artifacts — many of which belonged to his great-grandfather — is the largest outside of the Smithsonian, he said.

A well-traveled individual, Berry’s three days in Eagle River were his first.

“I do a lot of traveling,” he said. “I’ve looked forward to coming here for a long time.”

While race was a major theme of Berry’s lecture, he stressed the similarities shared by people of all races.

“We’re all being drawn to be more fully human,” he said.

Berry also talked about the bond between black and white Americans. He said he wants to spread the message that though whites enslaved blacks, both races worked together to end slavery.

“White people and black people in this country share a common heritage,” he said. “We can see how bound up we are.”

Berry said his lectures also stress the bond everyone in the United States shares as countrymen. That includes the responsibility for beginning — but also ending — slavery, he said.

“We are Americans,” Berry said. “All the bad things you see happen here were perpetrated by all of us as Americans.

“And we as Americans stopped it together,” he said.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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