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The State of Things

Taking Refuge in the Great Dismal Swamp

Great Dismal Swamp

It's tough to imagine the 112,000 muck-filled, bug-swarmed acres of the Great Dismal Swamp looking like paradise. But for enslaved people in the 18th- and 19th-century, the swamp provided protection from those who wished to keep them in bondage.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Dan Sayers, an assistant professor of anthropology at American University, about his research exploring the maroon communities of the swamp, which straddles the Virginia border in the northeast corner of North Carolina; and with Michelle Lanier, acting director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission with the state's Historic Sites, about the complex story of the Underground Railroad.

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