Philadelphia man completes over 400-mile walk along the Underground Railroad in honor of Harriet Tubman

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By Claretta Bellamy, NBC News

Ken Johnston and Judith Bryant, a descendant of Harriet Tubman. (Courtesy Ken Johnston)

Kenneth Johnston of West Philadelphia always had a deep appreciation for Harriet Tubman and her work of freeing enslaved Black people. But instead of reading a book or watching a documentary to remember Tubman’s trek to freedom, Johnston put his shoes on and followed the same path she walked in her honor.

On Saturday, Johnston, 61, completed his over 400-mile trek, which he called a Walk to Freedom. His journey led him across New York state and along the routes of the Underground Railroad, stopping by historic Black sites and communities along the path.

Beginning in July, Johnston’s first stop was the Harriet Tubman Memorial in Harlem, New York. He continued on through the Hudson River Valley, across central New York, and ended his walks at the British Methodist Episcopal Church — the same church Tubman attended in Ontario, Canada.

“I was amazed,” Johnston said of his experience. “It was an incredible journey walking across New York state, particularly from Albany to Buffalo … visiting many of the known Underground Railroad communities.”

Johnston performed similar walks in the past.

Although Harriet Tubman is well known for her role in the Underground Railroad, we’re still discovering things about her life.

Get more Black history news.

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