Exploring Detroit’s Underground Railroad Sites


Today, the church is a historic anchor in an area that has had a significant amount of economic investment; the Greektown Casino is just a few paces down the street, and numerous chain and local restaurants line Monroe Street. The church, however, has retained its storied link to one of the earliest American struggles for equality.

Tours of Second Baptist are available by appointment, and after attending an uplifting service upstairs, I met my guide on the ground floor. Looking at old photographs and timelines, I learned about the church’s first pastor, the Rev. William Monroe, who started the first known school for black children in Detroit in 1839. The Rev. Monroe was also a station master in the Underground Railroad. As I took in this fact, the air became cooler. We were near the back doors and were about to enter the basement.

At…



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