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Campus Speaker to Detail Local Stops on ‘Underground Railroad’

Dorothy E. KingWilliamsport’s role in ferrying 19th-century slaves to freedom will be explored Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Klump Academic Center Auditorium.

The free 7 p.m. lecture, “The Underground Railroad and Its Williamsport Connection,” will be presented by Dorothy E. King, an assistant professor of sociology at Penn State Harrisburg. An educator, performance poet, playwright and founder of the PenOwl Productions theater company, her academic interests center on multiculturalism, African-American families during the Civil War and the use of theater as a tool for social action.

The presentation is among the events related to “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind “˜Little Women,'” a documentary film co-produced by Nancy Porter Productions Inc. and Thirteen/WNET New York’s “American Masters,” and a biography of the same name written by Harriet Reisen. Louisa May Alcott programs in libraries are sponsored by the American Library Association Public Programs Office with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding for a fall series of related local programs is provided by a grant administered through Lycoming College’s Snowden Library.

“The grant supporting this lecture allows us to focus on the social and historical context in which Alcott lived, as well as on her life and work,” said Patricia A. Scott, an associate professor and librarian for archives and digital collections initiatives at Penn College’s Madigan Library. “Because she was an abolitionist, and because our region was a haven for slaves seeking freedom, a talk on the Underground Railroad seemed like the perfect way to connect Alcott to our own local history.”

The event honors Mamie Sweeting Diggs, a local historian who tirelessly and generously shared the story of her great-grandparents’ assistance to runaway slaves. Diggs, who died in February, received a certificate in precision machining from Williamsport Area Community College, Penn College’s immediate predecessor.

King will speak in place of Charles L. Blockson, founder and curator of Temple University’s Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection of rare texts, slave narratives, art and other artifacts, who had to cancel his appearance.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Temple University and a master’s degree from New York University, and she holds master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. For the past 13 years, she has written and produced a dramatic composition at Penn State Harrisburg for the campuswide celebration of the Martin Luther King holiday.

For more about Madigan Library, visit online or call 570-320-2400, ext. 7923.

For more about Penn College, visit on the Web , email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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