I visited the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Center in Church Creek, MD yesterday and was deeply inspired. As I recall the many things I learned about her, two things stand out to me the most:
1. Harriet Tubman was only 5 foot tall. Isn't it interesting how we typically imagine our heroes to be giants in terms of height? Perhaps it's because of their giant-life qualities such as their strength, mental toughness, courage, will, drive, and unflinching commitment to something greater than themselves.
2. In 1868 Frederick Douglass sent Harriet Tubman a letter in which he said: "The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way."
The latter resonated with me as soon as I read it from the brochure on which it was inscribed. To know that Mrs. Tubman endured unconscionable suffering from childhood to adulthood to death yet completed her "mission" no matter what speaks volumes to me.
History says that nothing she did was for selfish or material gain or publicity. She simply wanted to be free and she wanted her family, friends, other enslaved Africans to be free as well. In today's society, Free(dom) is often taken for granted because we really don't have a tangible concept of lifelong bondage. We read about it, see it depicted on television and film, and we hear about it, but that's about it. As such, we, at times, give away our freedom and in essence give away our power.
The television series, #Underground was the only show, that I can recall, to tell the story of Harriet Tubman, but even then it was abbreviated due to cancellation.
As a descendent of Africans, I believe I it owe it to my ancestors and myself to learn the various stories of the true African-American heroes that self-sacrificially pioneered the way for me and others to follow and enjoy. There are numerous unsung heroes and heroines that deserve veneration and reverence and Harriet is unquestionably one of them.
With the luminescent assistance of the North Star in the sky and her internal beacon of truth and love "I found that I had crossed that line [into freedom], I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven." - Harriet Tubman, 1849