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Old Cahawba to host ‘Road to Freedom Wagon Tour’
(Orrville, AL) On Saturday, February 12, 2022, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, a historic property of the Alabama Historical Commission, will host the Road to Freedom Wagon Tour.
One hundred years before the 1965 Voting Rights March focused on the Dallas County courthouse in nearby Selma, a brave community of recently emancipated African Americans gathered around an older courthouse in Cahawba. These 19th-century citizens exercised their right to vote and –for a brief time – gained political power. The Road to Freedom Wagon Tour tells the story of Cahawba’s African American majority and traces their path from slavery to freedom with a special emphasis on how they reshaped Cahawba as they pursued their dreams of equality.
“Of all the tours we do, this is perhaps my favorite because it makes me think about the meaning of freedom,” said Linda Derry, Site Director at Old Cahawba Archaeological Park. “I like to start this tour by asking participants to consider what they would do if suddenly, one day, for the first time, they were told they were free. Then, as we tour historic locations throughout the park, we discover the first freedoms that Cahawba’s newly emancipated people sought. This look at the struggle for freedom from the inside out can be a humbling experience.”
By 1860, approximately 64% of Cahawba’s population was African American. After Emancipation, the formerly enslaved laborers engaged in commerce for themselves with their highly skilled craftsmanship, becoming bricklayers, carpenters, blacksmiths, plasterers, and landowners.
Many of those same citizens played prominent roles fighting for hard-won political freedoms. Jeremiah Haralson (born 1846) was self-educated and the only African American to serve in the Alabama House, Alabama Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Jordan Hatcher, Cahawba’s postmaster, was appointed to the Constitutional Convention. Tom Walker was one of Alabama’s first state legislators and became a highly successful lawyer in the District of Columbia, as well as a trustee of Howard University. Sara J. Hatcher Duncan regarded as the Pinnacle of Women’s Power in the A.M.E Church, was born in Cahawba shortly after Emancipation.
Participants will learn about how voting rights and the pursuit of freedom shaped Cahawba. The Road to Freedom Wagon Tour participants will meet at the visitor’s center, rain or shine. Tickets are $8 for children and $10 for adults and available at the Old Cahawba Visitors Center. A maximum of 15 tickets will be sold, so interested parties are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance of the event. Tickets may be purchased by calling 334-872-8058. Old Cahawba accepts all major credit cards.
Old Cahawba lies at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers, and from 1819 to 1826 it served as Alabama’s first capital. From downtown Selma, take Highway 22 (Dallas Avenue) west 8.6 miles. Cross over the Cahaba River and turn left onto County Road 9 and follow this 3.3 miles until it dead ends. Turn left onto County Road 2 and follow this 1.5 miles until you see the Visitor Center on the right. Visitor Center Address: 9518 Cahaba Road, Orrville, AL 36767.
To learn more about Old Cahawba, or the Alabama Historical Commission, please visit www.ahc.alabama.gov.