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Michigan Humanities Council grant supports historical mural

Posted on December 02, 2009

Cassopolis, Mich. — An interracial alliance of West Michigan residents, the Minority Coalition of Cass County, and the Michigan Humanities Council are collaborating to produce an outdoor mural depicting the Kentucky Raid, which took place in Cass County during the abolition movement.

The mural, titled “Sanctuary and Deliverance,” will be painted on a downtown Cassopolis building in the summer of 2010. The alliance hopes to involve local residents and students in preparing the wall and painting the artistic depiction under the direction of local artist Ruth Andrews.
The mural collaboration, spearheaded by Grand Valley State University Professor Veta Tucker and Alisea McLeod of South Bend, Ind., will deliver accurate information about the Kentucky Raid. The organizers hope the project will encourage dialogue, deliberation and reflection on relevant issues. The project also includes an informational pamphlet and discussion guide, a blog (, and an online collection of personal reactions to the mural.

In 1847 a group of slave catchers from Kentucky arrived in Cass County and seized several African Americans living on land owned by Cass County Quakers. The Kentuckians were intent on taking the African Americans back to Kentucky, but an interracial group of Quakers, free African Americans and white farmers determined that the African Americans would not be returned South and turned out to protect the African Americans.
The mural project derives from the work of Sondra Mose-Ursery, former mayor of Vandalia, who spent more than 25 years researching the underground railroad network and African American settlement in 19th century Cass County. The current alliance, including current Vandalia Mayor Beverly Young, wants to amplify Mose-Ursery's pioneering effort by creating a work of art that instills pride and solidarity in the residents of Cass County.

The sponsors of the Sanctuary and Deliverance project are Chain Lake Missionary Baptist Church, the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College, Cassopolis Public Schools, Michigan Freedom Trail Commission, and the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County.

For more information contact Veta Tucker  at (616) 331-8099, project director, Marty Kaszar at (269) 445-2431 or Scott Hirko of the Michigan Humanities Council  (517) 372-0029.

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