WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3) introduced bicameral, bipartisan legislation to begin the process of incorporating the John P. Parker House – an important stop on the Underground Railroad – into the National Park System. The Parker House is located in Ripley, Ohio.
“John P. Parker was a champion of the abolitionist movement, risking his life to help others secure their freedom.” Brown said. “As a former slave himself, his incredible journey to becoming a guide to freedom and a successful businessman is a testament to his strength. Adding this home into the National Park System as a national monument is an appropriate honor for this dedicated, selfless, and trailblazing American.”
“After securing his freedom from the bondage of slavery, John P. Parker worked tirelessly as an abolitionist to help liberate countless slaves. Like many other conductors on the Underground Railroad, Parker risked his life by helping guide fugitive slaves from the South to the North,” Beatty said. “We should honor the life and legacy of Parker by preserving his station on the Underground Railroad.”
John P. Parker was born into slavery in 1827. Initially living in Norfolk, Virginia, Parker was bought and sold multiple times before securing his freedom in 1845. Following his liberation, Parker moved to Cincinnati and ultimately settled in the Village of Ripley, located in Brown County. Parker went on to own and operate a successful metal foundry, becoming one of the first African-Americans to receive patents for his inventions.
In addition to his successful business, Parker became an active member of the Underground Railroad. Historical records attribute Parker with helping secure the freedom of hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad. Parker worked with abolitionist John Rankin, and together they supported a robust abolitionist movement on the Ohio River. The John P. Parker House is located on North Front Street in Ripley and has operated under the John P. Parker Historical Society since 1996.
The legislation – currently cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Tim Ryan (OH-13), Charles Rangel (NY-13), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Steve Stivers (R-15), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), David Joyce (OH-15), and Delegate Norton – would require the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study to determine the feasibility of the Parker house being added to the National Park System.