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Quote from Vivian in The Ethnic Tip

Kellogg: Secret code? What do you mean?
Vivian: Well, first of all, can anyone tell me what the Underground Railroad was?
Will: Now, this one I know. The Underground Railroad was a group of people that led the slaves to freedom.
Vivian: And when was it established?
Will: During slavery.
Vivian: Well, that covers about 250 years, Mr. Smith. Care to narrow it down a bit?
Will: What do you mean, right now?
Vivian: Sit down, Mr. Smith. It was established during the 1840s. Harriet Tubman, an ex-slave, was one of the leaders. Now, these gospel songs were actually secret messages sent to tell the runaway slaves how to get to freedom. For example, "the drinking gourd" referred to the Big Dipper. When the slaves sang Follow the Drinking Gourd, that signaled to the runaway slaves to run towards the Big Dipper. Along the route, they would meet with the abolitionist and escape to freedom.
Will: Well, that's what I meant.

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