JOURNEY tells the story of James Woodman, young, black and freeborn in 1814 Washington DC. Although legally a free man, he knows the promises of the Declaration are hollow when it comes to people like him. He has to constantly fight to keep his freedom and avoid kidnappers who hunt down ANY black person and sell them south into enslavement….. just what happened to his younger brother after James left the family farm to move to the city. James serves in the District Militia alongside Francis Scott Key and fights the British who eventually burn Washington.
He decides when the War of 1812 ends to go back to his father’s farm and start a family. He has also helped a young runaway, Luke, to find safety and freedom at the farm. Even now, after his service to a country that does not seem to love him back, he must fight to stay free from slave hunters and others who wish him ill. He is drawn into the Abolitionist movement and helps to bring the Underground Railroad through his valley. He helps fugitives to find freedom in Canada as he conducts dozens of northward.
The anti-Abolitionists declare open war on James and his family and anyone else who helps fugitive slaves to freedom. The final confrontation changes the feelings in the valley towards the freedom seekers, and James is forced to once again stand up for the “inalienable rights” that others have…. but not always people who look like him.
Brutally honest and thoroughly researched, JOURNEY takes place when the language of race was even harsher than today and the story reflects that, but it also draws many parallels with today’s headlines.
Driving in Budapest by Gary V. Brill is also on Whizbuzz Books.