Dan‘s interest in runaway slaves began when he attended the Poughkeepsie Day School. Classes were held in an old three-storey house which had been part of the Underground Railroad. Dan and his classmates searched the hallways and rooms for a secret passage and hide-away where runaways would have been hidden. They never found a secret passage but they imagined men, women and children climbing a narrow staircase to a place of safety. Dan’s fifth grade teacher, Mr. Scott, told the class that his great grandparents had been slaves in Mississippi. His great grandparents, like the other four million slaves in the South, were the property of their white owners. In 1863, they were freed when the Emancipation Proclamation became law.
Dan grew up and went to college, majoring in economics and creative writing. When he graduated, the United States was at war in Vietnam. Dan believed the war was unjust and he joined many others in protest and civil disobedience. Relying on the power of moral imagination, Dan applied to his draft board for conscientious objector status. Dan and his wife Nancy came to Canada in 1970 to live in a more just society.
At Vassar College, Nancy studied international relations and was deeply concerned about issues of inequality. Later, she became an early childhood educator with a special interest in children’s literature.
Dan and Nancy have three children and eight grandchildren. They live in Ottawa, Ontario.