Vandalia unveils Underground Railroad mural

Published 2:04 pm Monday, June 24, 2024

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VANDALIA — Vandalia has a rich heritage of being part of the Underground Railroad. Inspired by  the desire to bring greater visibility to this landmark and memorialize the journey of the enslaved people, President Beverly Young commissioned Mural Makers of New Jersey to install the Underground  Railroad mural originally designed by Vandalia’s own Diriki Mose. 

“I was a young engineering college student home for summer break in the early 90’s when my mother and former President of Vandalia Sondra Mose-Ursery asked me to create a mural that  would represent the town when Vandalia hosted the National Conference of Black  Mayors,” Mose said. “Understanding Cass County’s rich history of the Underground Railroad, I felt it befitting  to incorporate that theme into the mural. Using my newly acquired computer aided drawing  skills, computer aided drawing software, and a creative mind; I created the thematic drawing  that we see today. 

Mose said the original drawing started on the left with a person fleeing captivity, being chased by  horsemen, which represented Cass County’s historic case of the Kentucky Raid. The next major scene shows the traveler walking towards a person holding a lantern, which represented the Quakers’ involvement in the Underground Railroad. 

“After that, a shanty was drawn to represent Ramptown, a town not yet uncovered at the time when I created the drawing but my mom was diligently researching it,” Mose said. “The next part of the drawing is in the back of the Ramptown home where the drawing depicts the traveler standing with another person who is pointing ‘North,’  the North Star is displayed in the sky. In the finale, on the far right side of the drawing, the  freeman is rejoicing with a family, with both arms raised up underneath a star filled sky.”

Although the original image has been cropped over the years, the theme is still understood.  Vandalia played a significant role in eradicating the unjust institution of slavery in the United  States of America. 

The public is invited to see the mural and to join us in Vandalia on July 13 and 14 for the annual  Underground Railroad Days celebration. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with activities centered around Milo Barnes Park on M-60 in Vandalia.