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One of Black history’s most poignant heroes is finally getting justice after he was tried as a criminal for freeing slaves as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

According to ABC News, Delaware officials have announced their plan to pardon Samuel Burris, who was convicted for leading many slaves to freedom in the 19th century.

Gov. Jack Markell will posthumously pardon Burris, a free Black man who was convicted in 1847 for helping slaves escape. Burris was caught and punished by being sold back into slavery for seven years, but was eventually paid for and set free again by a Pennsylvania anti-slavery society.

He left Delaware after laws were enacted that would place people like Burris under a death sentence for freeing slaves.

He continued to help free an unknown number of slaves until his death in the 1860s.

Robert Seeley, of Havertown, Pennsylvania, and Ocea Thomas of Atlanta, Georgia, confirmed the news after getting personal calls from Gov. Markell. Thomas is a relative of Burris’, while Seeley reached out to Markell for the pardon in light of a recent clemency to three abolitionists in Illinois.

ABC News reports:

Seeley says he’s been working with Markell’s office but that the governor can’t issue a pardon in Hunn and Garrett’s cases because they were tried in federal court, not state court. He says President Barack Obama would need to pardon them and that he plans to continue to work on a pardon in their case.

“Even if it comes out to be a proclamation or a declaration or not an official presidential pardon, so be it. We’ll see what we can do,” Seeley said, adding there is “a lot of red tape.”

“[Burris] Is a victory. It brings honor to the Burris family and it brings justice for Samuel Burris and his descendants. It’s making a wrong a right finally,” Seeley said.

The pardon will officially take place on Nov. 2, the anniversary of Burris’ conviction. A historical marker will also be unveiled in Kent County the same day.



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