Niagara Falls, in the United States of America, is not only a place of natural wonder, but also a central location in the history of African American resistance to slavery and discrimination.

During the 19th century, Niagara Falls was one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad – a network of secret routes and safe houses that allowed enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada.

The latest episode of Global Lens examines the pivotal role of the Underground Railroad in establishing African American resistance and celebrates the courage of those who risked their lives to help others escape, including Harriet Tubman.

Our lead character is educator, author and human rights advocate Saladin Allah, a descendent of Underground Railroad forerunner Josiah Henson, whose life was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

As a visitor experience specialist at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, Mr. Allah is an expert storyteller who takes us on an unforgettable journey through African American history and reminds us that we all play a role in shaping the next generation.

Through education and historical truth-telling can we achieve recognition of past wrongdoing, and work toward a more just world.

There are around 200 million people identifying themselves as being of African descent living in the Americas. Millions more live outside of the African continent.

Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, they constitute some of the poorest and most marginalized groups.

Studies by international and national bodies demonstrate that people of African descent still have limited access to quality education, health services, housing, and social security.

In many cases, insufficient recognition and respect have been given to the efforts of people of African descent to seek redress for their present condition.

The UN International Decade for People of African Descent, to be observed from 2015 to 2024, provides a solid framework for the United Nations, Member States, civil society, and others to join together with people of African descent and implement a programme of activities in the spirit of recognition, justice,  and development.