In her Junior Summer Fellowship project, Khyra Stiner ’21 will capture the experiences of enslaved people by telling their harrowing stories.
She said she intends to use poetry and photography to educate others about the extraordinary experiences of Black people in American history. She also said she hopes her work will shed light on the perilous journeys and the valiance of enslaved people who used the Underground Railroad to escape slavery in the early 19th century.
“The areas I am most creative in are photography and writing, so I wanted to incorporate that into my project,” Stiner said.
In addition to creating a video presentation with an overview of her initiative, her final project will consist of a poetry collection, categorized by the setting of the poems.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Stiner planned on following the path of the Underground Railroad herself by traveling to Atlanta and visiting each stop individually, from North Carolina to Canada.
Stiner said she is missing out on the opportunity to add a personal touch to her project but has still found ways to research the stops along the way and make her project as authentic as possible. She said she is primarily using historical websites with primary sources and images to compile information.
Stiner said she strives to inform the general public of the hardships that enslaved individuals had to go through to escape hostile treatment in the South.
Overall, Stiner said the lack of emphasis put on the Underground Railroad in schools today inspired her to tell the stories of the people who experienced slavery firsthand. Stiner said she believes it is important to highlight this crucial part of American history that is not talked about enough.
“I want my audience to come away understanding what the experience of escaping from slavery and taking the dangerous journey felt like and what it entailed,” Stiner said.