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Harriet Tubman

Max Schulte/WXXI News

Down a steep cliff from Maplewood Rose Garden is a place that Rochester once forgot, despite its historical importance that involved some of the area's most famous citizens.

If you wanted to go from Rochester to Chicago, Canada or even England in the mid-1800s, you were likely taking a steamship -- and for a time, you left from Kelsey’s Landing. 

Built by Alexander Kelsey in 1844 along the banks of the Genesee River, the landing’s accessibility made it a popular place in the 1840s and '50s for moving people and goods like flour, timber, and salt. 

New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center

The Equal Rights Heritage Center has got Harriet Tubman right. There she is, standing on the lawn in downtown Auburn, holding a lantern. And just in case you choose to ignore that symbol of truth-seeker, there's also a gun tucked in the statue's belt.

"Frederick Douglass dominates African-American history for the pre-Civil War period," says Robert E. May, author of the new book "Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory."

"Then you get to figures like Nat Turner, and others who are important for other reasons. But Harriet Tubman is right up there."

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson did not know who Harriet Tubman was, according to the New Yorker magazine. But he's not alone: polls show that many Americans don't know much about Tubman. Why is that?

Moreover, are we failing in teaching parts of our American history? Fox News' Bill O'Reilly recently stressed that while slaves did help build the White House, as First Lady Michelle Obama mentioned in her convention speech, the slaves were well fed and had good lodging. Why would O'Reilly emphasize a part of the slave experience that appears to massage the rough edges? Our guests discuss it:

  • Geraldine Copes-Daniels, great grandniece of Harriet Tubman
  • Catherine Clinton, chair of the American History Department at the University of Texas in San Antonio, and international research professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast
  • Benjamin Lawrance, professor of international studies and director of international and global studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Maggie Moore-Holley, Harriet Tubman re-enactor