Avis Wanda McClinton, an African American Quaker from Upper Dublin Township, PA, who visited with local Friends during last June’s Yearly Meeting at Warren Wilson, has assisted in commemorating a graveyard of escaped slaves near the Upper Dublin Friends Meetinghouse. The graveyard was part of the farmland belonging to Thomas and Hannah Atkinson; their home served as a station along the “Underground Railroad,” or UGRR. Given the laws against aiding fugitive slaves, the Atkinsons and their allies had to bury deceased fugitives in unmarked graves. As a consequence, the number and names of those so interred are unknown. You can find a brief clip of Avis’ testimony on YouTube, at: Commemoration.
The journey to have a memorial marker placed on Meetinghouse property was littered with obstacles; Avis Wanda relates her account of that journey in the Friends’ Journal. Avis faced great challenges long before the recent opposition to the UGRR memorial; over two decades before, out of work due to grievous injuries from two car accidents, she launched a personal drive to collect and bring clothes to an impoverished rural town in North Carolina. The Philadelphia Inquirer published a story of that campaign. Although that effort occurred long before Avis began attending Quaker worship, it seems she was already open to continuing revelation.
Swannanoa Valley Friends hold Friend Avis Wanda in the Light, and are enlightened by her work.