The State Bar of Michigan's 30th legal milestone "Freedom Road" will focus on the role of the Underground Railroad and the 1847 Kentucky raid on rural Cass County by southerners seeking to recapture runaways.
A dedication ceremony will be held Tuesday, August 16, at Southwestern Michigan College, 58900 Cherry Grove Road in Dowagiac at 11 a.m. A bronze plaque detailing the events related to the Kentucky raid will be unveiled. This marker will be permanently installed on the south side of the 1899 courthouse in Cassopolis. This building is located close to the original courthouse (now demolished) where the Kentucky raiders and their captives surrendered to court authorities in August 1847.
The president of the State Bar of Michigan, Nancy J. Diehl will serve as master of ceremonies during the event, which will take place at the auditorium in Southwestern Michigan College's Lyons Building. "The Michigan Legal Milestones is a cooperative program that builds bridges of understanding," Diehl said. "It has resulted in the continuous education of the public about the role of the law and the impact of the legal system on peoples' lives."
The State Bar initiated the Michigan Legal Milestones program in 1986 to recognize significant legal cases in the state's history. Bronze plaques are placed at featured sites, to tell of the historical significance. Other scheduled speakers at the ceremony are:
- The Honorable Dennis W. Archer, Chairman, Dickinson Wright, former Mayor of the City of Detroit and Immediate Past President of the American Bar Association. Archer grew up in Cass County and is from Cassopolis.
- Senator Ron Jelinek, from the 21st Senate District and a lifelong resident of Berrien County.
- Roosevelt Thomas, a prominent black Dowagiac attorney.
- Cordell Jones, a Marcellus attorney and descendant of William Jones, a Quaker who took an active role in the Underground Railroad and the Kentucky Raid.
- Dr. Michelle Johnson of the Freedom Trail Commission.
- Debian Marty, Associate Professor, California State University Monterey Bay who's a descendant of Quakers Ishmael and Mariam (Marmon) Lee.