The Menare FoundationOur Mission
The Menare Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Underground Railroad history, historic sites and environments and to the creation of associated educational programs. Through assistance and training, Menare works with individuals and organizations to preserve the Underground Railroad legacy using history as a resource for community revitalization, race dialogue and cultural growth.
Meaning of Menare
Menare takes its name from a pass code once used on the Underground Railroad, according to Arnold Gragston, a former slave who was interviewed for the Federal Writer's Project in 1937. Gragston, who guided Kentucky fugitives to sanctuaries across the Ohio River, said the word came from the Bible. An old Italian word of the same spelling means "to lead someone on a journey." The Menare Foundation, Inc. chose this word for its name as a symbol of universal freedom and hope. Click here to read Arnold Gragston's Narrative.
In the years before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad was a secret network of people places that helped fugitive slaves escape to freedom. The runaways took refuge amidst the fields, thickets, swamps, and waterways of the slave states. Following these byways to Northern towns, they gained assistance and shelter from abolitionists and sympathizers who guided them along their way. Today, these former Underground Railroad stations remain as landmarks to the historic struggle, while countless undocumented sites stand forgotten, in disrepair, and at risk of being destroyed.
Under the theme R.I.D.E The Underground Railroad, the Menare Foundation engages in many activities related to the documentation and preservation of this important history, including:
- Restoring what is in danger of destruction. Preserve and maintain what is left of the Underground Railroad for present and future generations.
- Interpreting Underground Railroad history through innovative programs. Bring the story of slavery and the struggle for freedom to life as an example of inspiration in the present.
- Documenting and authenticating Underground Railroad sites by providing primary documentation and verifying oral histories.
- Educating people about the legacy of the Underground Railroad movement and its relevancy in the modern world through the creation of interactive programs, lectures, publications, films, and study guides for educators and students.