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Underground Railroad re-enactment at St. Peter's in Morristown celebrates Absalom Jones Day

Danielle Baker playing the role of Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman
Sharon Sheridan / Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Karen Eberhardt’s first face-to-face encounter with racial discrimination still resonates, half a century later.

She was visiting the North Carolina drug store where her aunt worked when an African-American woman entered with a boy, two years at the oldest. He made a beeline for the seats at the soda fountain and began spinning around on them.

Because he was black, “my aunt had to say to the woman, ‘You know he can’t do that,’ and I was devastated,” Eberhardt recalled. Her aunt told her: “I don’t own the store, and it’s the owner’s policy, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I need to keep my job.”

“It has stayed with me all my life,” said Eberhardt, now a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.