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We Still Here - Walk to Freedom Harpers Ferry

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Dear Friends,

During the past five years, I have traced the footsteps of 19th Century Freedom Seekers by walking across large geographic areas of the Lower and Upper South, and from Philadelphia to Canada seeking to learn the challenges Blacks faced escaping slavery on foot.

In three short weeks, May 17-25, 2023, I will embark on my next Walk to Freedom journey again from south to north crossing the permeable political and ideological boundary of the Mason-Dixon line. This walk will be from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The goal of the walk is to reflect and meditate on two core American values - Justice and Freedom in spaces where these historic values grapple with the contradiction of slavery.
I’m naming this walk “We Still Here” to reflect Black Americans’ raised voices and perseverance for justice and freedom. The title derives from a Philadelphia mural featuring poet Ursula Rucker.

On this walk, I hope to learn about the Black communities closest to the line of freedom before and after the Civil War. I will be walking just under 100 miles crossing parts of four counties nearest to the Mason-Dixon Line in West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The major towns I will be visiting include Harpers Ferry, Frederick, Catoctin Furnace, Hagerstown, and Gettysburg. I want to learn what resistance to slavery looked like in these communities where free and enslaved African Americans lived less than 30 miles or a days walk from freedom.

I am seeking both monetary and non-monetary assistance. Donations in the amount of $100, $50, or even $25 will be greatly appreciated to assist with meals, campground fees, severe weather lodging, ground transportation to and from the trailhead, multi-media data plan (people love videos), and emergency trip insurance.

Non-monetary assistance is also great. I am seeking community connections leading to potential overnight lodging in Jefferson, Frederick, Catoctin and Hagerstown, Maryland. I’m also seeking lodging in Waynesboro and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Help with meals, outreach to local churches, meeting houses, community groups, and environmental orgs interested in a guest speaker, or anyone interested in joining me for the walk.

Walk to Freedom is a long-distance walking initiative designed to stimulate discussions with communities about the importance of Civil Rights, Health, Immigration and Freedom.


Ken Johnston
Philadelphia, PA

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