The Underground Railroad, "the first civil rights movement," was no mere act of civil disobedience. The secret network of guides, pilots, and safe-house keepers (the Railroad's "conductors") was built by runaway slaves who, over the decades, communicated their experiences through songs and secret gestures, and were supported by abolitionists (many of them former slaves) who risked their own freedom to help free the enslaved. The "passengers" risked their lives.
A wealth of photos, documents, and commentary by modern historians provides the broad lines of history, but it comes alive in the individual stories of conductors and passengers, among them abolitionist and historian William Still, called the "Father of the Underground Railroad," and Henry "Box" Brown, who mailed himself to freedom in a cargo crate. They (and many others) take their place beside Harriet Tubman ("the Moses of her people") and Frederick Douglass as courageous heroes in America's first integrated social movement.
The DVD also features the Biography episode on Frederick Douglass, the complete text of the Emancipation Proclamation, a biographical essay on Harriet Tubman, and other historical background pieces. --Sean Axmaker