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Ricks, Mary Kay

Ricks, Mary Kay


Married; children: two.


E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, tour guide, and attorney. Tour DC, Washington, DC, founder and director; former attorney at the U.S. Department of Labor.


Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Washington Post.


Mary Kay Ricks, who heads a guided-tour company focusing on tours of Georgetown in Washington, DC, is also the author of Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad. The book focuses on a little-known account of seventy fugitive slaves in 1848 who attempted to escape from slavery on the schooner Pearl and make a 2,000-mile-plus voyage from Washington, DC, to freedom in the north. This incident led to an effort to abolish slavery in Washington, DC, and also brought the issue of slavery to the forefront of the country's consciousness. Much of the book focuses on the Edmondson family, slaves to some of Washington's most elite families. Because of their high-profile positions, the Edmondsons, particularly the sisters Mary and Emily, helped bring about an intense lobbying effort to end slavery in the nation's capital. Ricks bases much of her book on court records, newspaper accounts, and private letters. "This is a compelling account of a famous campaign and court case," wrote Vanessa Bush in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to Escape on the Pearl as "a valuable account, closing with a moving … [narrative] of the fate of the Pearl's people and their descendants."



Booklist, February 1, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad, p. 27.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2006, review of Escape on the Pearl, p. 1213.

Publishers Weekly, November 6, 2006, review of Escape on the Pearl, p. 49.

Raleigh News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), February 11, 2007, J. Peder Zane, "Black History Is Still Unfolding," includes review of Escape on the Pearl.

USA Today, February 27, 2007, Deirdre Donahue, "Escaped Slaves Fail in ‘Bid for Freedom,’" review of Escape on the Pearl, p. 09.


Tour DC Web site, (August 28, 2007).

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