In 1838, Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs called for Latter-day Saints to leave the state or be exterminated. The Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church leaders were imprisoned on false charges. Most were released by the following spring, except Parley P. Pratt.
On July 4, 1839, while the guards were serving dinner, Elder Pratt and two others stormed the Columbia jail door and ran for freedom.
About 600 community members gathered on Saturday, July 3, to celebrate United States First Amendment freedoms in Columbia, Missouri, with the 27th annual Parley P. Pratt Freedom Run, according to a Church Newsroom release. The event included an opening ceremony, a message of freedom, and a 4-mile and 1-mile run/walk.
Jeremiah Morgan, the Missouri deputy attorney general and an Area Seventy, gave the message of freedom and participated in the run. “These fundamental freedoms are essential to our country, to each of us individually, that protect our right to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, our right to speak in the public square, our right to assemble peaceably,” he said.
The start/finish line was located next to the Boone County Courthouse, just a few hundred feet from the spot where Elder Pratt started his run for freedom 182 years ago. The 4-mile course passed 28 symbols of freedom in the downtown Columbia area, including the site of Parley P. Pratt’s run for freedom, Thomas Jefferson’s relocated original grave marker, the Missouri Press Association and 17 houses of faith.
Read more about the Parley P. Pratt Freedom Run on the Church Newsroom website.