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Underground Railroad Research Forum

Footman ~ Fiction or Fact

From: Janet Lane Martin
Date: January 27, 2016 at 8:55:37 PM EST
To: "Mrs. Jupiter"
Subject: Footman

A lot of people don't know the real meaning behind these statues, so they vandalize them, bitch about them being racist, etc. When the image of a black 'footman' with a lantern signified the home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. These are largely a northern thing, and weren't commonly found in the South until after WWII when northerners moved there and brought this custom with them. The clothing of the statue was also coded. A striped jockey's shirt meant that this was a place to swap horses, while a footman in a tailed coat meant overnight lodgings/food, and a blue sailor's waistcoat meant the homeowner could take you to a port and get you on a ship to Canada. I always laugh when I hear black folks talk about how racist these are, because honestly, the cats who had them were likely the LEAST racist. Later, these came back into popularity after WWII, and they were again coded to show the white homeowners supported early civil rights efforts, weren’t Klan, etc.

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Messages In This Thread

Footman ~ Fiction or Fact
Re: Footman ~ Fiction or Fact
Re: Footman ~ Fiction or Fact

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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