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Black History Month: Harriet Tubman

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Black History Month: Harriet Tubman

Saloni Kainth, Staff Writer

Born in Dorchester County, Maryland, Araminta Harriet Ross was born in 1820 as a slave. She was a political activist and an American abolitionist who freed hundreds of slaves before the American Civil War. During her childhood, Harriet often worked as a maid, nurse, cook, woodcutter, and a field hand. Three of her sisters were sold to distant plantations, separating the family. Her life was often filled with physical violence resulting in seizures, headaches, scars, and intense dreams. For the rest of her life, she would have to carry these scars as a terrible reminder of how she was a slave. As a slave, there was a thin line between freedom and slavery. Ross’s dad was freed as a slave at the age of 45 by his owner. However, the rest of his family had to continue working since they had different owners while he had little power to rebel.

In 1844, Harriet married a free African American named John Tubman. Half of the African Americans at the eastern shore of Maryland were free and it wasn’t unusual to have a family full of enslaved people and free people. John was threatening to sell Harriet further south while her brothers were also about to be sold. This chaos provoked a plan of escape out of Harriet. On September 17, 1849, Harriet escaped with her two brothers, Ben and Henry, who later on gave up and went back. However, Tubman continued her journey 90 miles north to Pennsylvania. She found a job as housekeeper, but wasn’t satisfied with how she was free but her family wasn’t. She quickly went back to rescue her niece and her niece’s children with the help of the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad helped slaves escape since it was becoming harder and harder to be free. “Conductors,” led the slaves to private homes, churches, and schoolhouses that were safe places for them to hide as they traveled to areas where slavery was outlawed. Tubman later on became a conductor for the Underground Railroad as well.

After rescuing her family, Tubman had finally gained her freedom. She started working as a conductor, helping slaves escape. Tubman helped at least 70 escapees gain their freedom. Later on, Tubman settled in Auburn, New York, and married former veteran Nelson Davis. They also adopted a girl named Gertie a few years later. Tubman was a major influence in the past as well as now. Even though she was illiterate, she often spoke on the behalf of women on the women’s suffrage movement. On March 13, 1913, pneumonia took Tubman’s life, but her legacy still lives on. She will forever be remembered for her courageous work and brilliant ideas.

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Black History Month: Harriet Tubman