Ohio legislators want Underground Railroad site designated national monument
WASHINGTON D.C. - A group of Congress members from Ohio want the National Park Service to designate the Cincinnati-area house of a former slave and abolitionist as a national monument.
The Ripley home where John P. Parker operated a busy Underground Railroad stop is already a museum and National Historic Landmark.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Columbus-area Democrat Joyce Beatty have sponsored legislation that would require the National Park Service to incorporate the facility into the park system. Doing so would mean the John P. Parker House wouldn't depend on local funds to operate.
In addition to helping more than 900 people escape slavery, Parker ran an iron foundry and recruited soldiers for the two Ohio Civil War regiments of United States Colored Troops.
In a letter sent to the National Park Service last week, Brown, Beatty and Democrats Marcia Fudge of Warrensville Heights, Marcy Kaptur of Toledo and Tim Ryan of the Niles area say Parker's homestead "is the only remaining Underground Railroad station owned by a former slave."
"Today, the site looks as it did in the mid-nineteenth century," their letter says. "Including the Parker House within the NPS would appropriately honor an extraordinary person of color during a painful, but important chapter of our nation's history while educating and inspiring today's generations and generations to come."
Brown's office says the National Park Service's midwest regional office is surveying the property to gauge its suitability to become a park service unit.
This article first appeard on Cleveland.com's website on September 12, 2016.