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Monday, February 06, 2006

Henry Box Brown

Image: James McKim (right) receives Henry Box Brown in Pennsylvania

Henry Box Brown was born a slave Louisa County, Virginia, in 1815. He married a local slave but in 1849 his wife and children were sold to a plantation owner in North Carolina. Soon afterwards Brown decided to escape and with the help of a sympathetic tobacconist, he arranged to be sent in a box to James McKim, an anti-slavery campaigner in Pennsylvania and a member of the Underground Railroad. Brown survived the journey and as well as becoming a well-known speaker for the Anti-Slavery Society, he wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown (1851).

WSET 13 has an interview with an actor who is doing a one man show about Henry Box Brown:

Lynchburg, VA - In the mid-1800s, he put himself in a wooden box and shipped himself from slavery to freedom. Henry Brown came to be known as 'Box.' Now, the story of Box Brown is coming back to life. In our Good News Friday report, we meet the actor with the one-man-show about that daring trip.

Mike Wiley, Actor - "Upon being transported to another mode of travel, again, I heard some workers say there was no more room -- for my package. So, you know what I did?"

From Performance Video - "I prayed. Oh Lawd. I prayed ‘til my knees went white and ashy."

Wiley - "I prayed and I prayed and I was placed aboard, upside down."

For us, and on stage, Roanoke's Mike Wiley portrays what it must have been like for the real Henry 'Box' Brown to send himself in a box from southern slavery to freedom in Philadelphia.

Wiley - "It's an experience for everyone."

That Wiley says applies today.
You can see "One Noble Journey" Friday night. It starts at 7:30 at Liberty University's Fine Arts Building. Tickets are $10.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

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