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Andrews: Underground Railroad ride, modern history lesson

By Adrienne Andrews - | Jul 7, 2021

We have been celebrating freedom a lot over the last few weeks. Juneteenth became a federally recognized holiday this year, commemorating the emancipation of African American slaves.

Just this week, we celebrated the Fourth of July, which for many people represents the beginning of freedom.

Here in Utah, we look forward to our Days of ’47, celebrated on July 24, symbolizing the freedom Latter-day Saints felt upon their arrival to this place.

At Weber State University, you will hear the sound of freedom, with the return of the 42nd Annual Lindquist Family Symphony Pops and Fireworks. This event will attract thousands of people to Weber State University on Sunday, July 18, from 9-11 p.m.

Started in 1978 by John A. and Telitha E. Lindquist, the Symphony Pops and Fireworks tradition is continued by their son, John E. Lindquist. The celebration of freedom is enhanced by musical performances, featuring the New American Philharmonic, directed by Shannon Roberts. The free community event welcomes everyone, and the pops concert provides a great opportunity to observe our freedoms together.

All of us have special traditions and ways to celebrate freedom. I’d like to share how some dear friends of mine are celebrating freedom. Weber State assistant professor of nursing Kathleen Cadman and her husband, Eddie Baxter, a counselor at Mount Ogden Junior High, along with their son Zion and her parents, Robert E. and Doris Kuhnert Cadman, are biking the Underground Railroad Trail. They started on Loving Day — their anniversary — and have just wrapped up their journey in Auburn, New York, at the resting place of Harriet Tubman, the Moses of the Underground Railroad.

Kathleen and Eddie shared photographs, video clips and stories about their experience, inviting friends to learn with them along the way. While I know the story, they brought it to life for me in a new way. I experienced the journey through their eyes, and I’m much richer for it.

Much like Harriet Tubman directed slaves to freedom, Kathleen and Eddie are guiding adults back to school for a different kind of freedom. They established a tax-deductible recurring scholarship at Weber State University, the Eddie L. Baxter Sankofa Scholars Award. Sankofa is a West African Adinkra symbol for one’s quest to “go back and get it.” Through their trip, they were able to go back and get an education about an important chapter of history that is often diminished or omitted.

According to Kathleen, the ability to “go back and get it” is an empowering process of learning and growth. The Sankofa Scholars scholarship is designed for single-parents with financial need who have faced challenging social, educational, cultural and/or other life circumstances. It’s for the students who are going back to get it, just like Eddie did.

Imagine, holding on to your freedom, educating others about it and creating a scholarship for others to do it. That is exactly what Eddie, Kathleen and their family are doing! If you’d like to help them achieve their goal, you can contribute to advancement.weber.edu.

May freedom ring as you celebrate with our community.

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