Decision to Leave

Magnolia Plantation on the Cane River, LA

"They worked me all de day, Widout one cent of pay; So I took my flight in de middle ob de night, When de moon am gone away." - chorus of Geo. W. Clark Liberty Song

Take a look at the Underground Railroad with a new exhibit opening this weekend at the West Baton Rouge Museum.

Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad opens on Saturday, April 6 and will un through May 25. 

Photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales spent more than a decade meticulously researching “fugitive” slaves and the ways they escaped to freedom. The path Michna-Bales documented encompasses roughly 2,000 miles of sites, cities, and places that freedom-seekers passed.

Through a series of photographs, she helps the viewer imagine the long road to freedom as seen through the eyes of those who made the epic journey.

The journey sometimes began in the middle of the night with people carrying little more than the knowledge that moss grows on the north side of trees. An estimated 100,000 enslaved people between 1830 and the end of the Civil War in 1865 chose to embark on this journey to freedom.

Many consider the Underground Railroad to be the first great freedom movement in the Americas and the first time when people of different races and faiths worked together in harmony for freedom and justice. Some consider the Underground Railroad the first civil rights movement within America. 

Louisiana freedom stories will be included in this exhibit, including an original reward letter from 1817 for a man who escaped from Pointe Coupee Parish.

This exhibition is on loan from ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. For more information about the programs and activities associated with the exhibition call (225) 336-2422 x 200 or visit

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. to 5 pm.

The West Baton Rouge Museum is located at 845 N. Jefferson Avenue in Port Allen.

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