Christmas Eve 1854 – Harriet Tubman returned to her Maryland home to free her brothers Ben and Henry. Her coded message: “Tell my brothers to be always watching unto prayer and when the good old ship of Zion comes along, to be ready to step on board.” This was the second time that she attempted to help them escape. The first time was 1849 when she escaped. Ben and Henry became scared and turned back.
Traveling more than 100 miles, they arrived at William Still’s Anti-Slavery office in Philadelphia on Dec. 29, 1854.
In an interview with Fox News today, Trump Chief Of Staff, John Kelly says a “LACK OF ABILITY TO COMPROMISE led to the CIVIL WAR”.
COMPROMISE? Can you really come to a compromise when it comes to the enslavement, oppression, rape, murder, and economic disenfranchisement of an entire race of people perpetuated and perpetrated out of greed for hundreds of years?
The use of violence as a tool to oppress and subjugate people of color is well documented. Many have seen images of African American protestors during the Civil Rights movement being viciously attacked by dogs. This was not a phenomenon only common to the American Civil Rights Movement. The use of dogs to inflict violence upon people of color is well documented both in the U.S. and abroad. Dogs were often used to inflict punishment on enslaved persons. They were also used to track enslaved persons who ran away. The use of dogs was not ask haphazard. Dogs were specially bred for this purpose.
In an article published by the African American Intellectual Society (AAHIS), Tyler Parry, associate professor at the California State University, Fullerton, candidly shares this troubling and violent history.
Some of our readers may recall the viral video of an African-American man being mauled by a police dog in Florida in July 2017. This incident is also highlighted in the article as well. Click below to view the video. Note the images in the video are disturbing:
Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Trump Administration described enslaved Africans who came to the U.S. in slave ships as “immigrants” who had a dream….. He made these comments during a speech to HUD employees. No disrespect to those who willingly came here as immigrants, but enslaved Africans came here in chains and were forced to work for free. There is no logical way that Dr. Carson could or should refer to them as “immigrants”. Check out the video clip and see it for yourself!. Video clip is from USA Today.
David Walker (1785-1830), was the son of an enslaved father and a free black mother. Because his mother was free, Walker was also considered a free citizen. His freedom, however, did not shield him from witnessing firsthand the injustices of slavery. On one occasion, Walker witnessed an enslaved boy who was forced to whip his mother until she died. This experience and others throughout his life rallied him to become an activist and an abolitionist. As an adult, Walker settled in Boston, MA. Though Boston was a free city in the North, discrimination was still very prevalent there. Walker opened a clothing store in Boston in the 1820’s. He also began to associate with other black activists and abolitionists and became a writer for the first African American Newspaper in the U.S. “Freedom’s Journal”. Walker was also involved with the Underground Railroad providing clothing to those trying to escape slavery.
We are often told about the history of slavery in the United States. However, Canada also participated in the slave trade. In comparison to the U.S., the number of people estimated to be enslaved in Canada was much lower. Still those enslaved in Canada experienced the same mistreatment and abuse. We often hear narratives of enslaved people escaping to freedom in Canada. However there were also groups of slaves in Canada who escaped to freedom in the United States by crossing the border into to Detroit, MI. The stories of those enslaved in Canada has often gone untold or been ignored. Slavery was legal in Canada for 200 years. Continue reading “An Untold Story: Slavery In Canada”→
A newly discovered photo of a “younger” Harriet Tubman (1819? – 1913) is getting lots of publicity in the media! The photo was discovered among other pictures belonging to a deceased friend of Tubman’s. It is estimated that Tubman is in her early to mid 40’s in the picture. Her photo along with 44 other photos will be auctioned on March 30 by Swann Galleries. The photo was likely taken just after the Civil War. Tubman was then residing in Auburn, NY on land that would later become the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.
Tubman also made the news in 2016 after it was announced that her image would be added to the $20 bill beginning in 2030 replacing, President Andrew Jackson. While many of us are familiar with Tubman’s bravery and heroism in bringing hundreds of people to freedom, via the Underground Railroad, I’d like to share some lesser known facts about her life!
Tubman’s was given the name Araminta Ross at birth (nickname: Minty). She adopted the name Harriet after running away to escape slavery to aid in disguising her identity. Harriet was her mother’s name. Her last name, “Tubman” was taken when she married her first husband John Tubman who was a free man.
It is estimated that Tubman walked approximately 90 when she escaped slavery. No one knows exactly how long it took her to make the trip.
Tubman’s husband was not interested in following her North. He remarried a free woman of color after Tubman’s escape and had several children with her; leaving Harriet heart-broken. She would later remarry Nelson Davis in 1869. He was 22 years younger than Tubman. They remained married for 19 years until his death.
Tubman suffered from a health condition that would cause her to fall asleep suddenly without warning. She also experienced severe headaches, and seizures. The condition (possibly temporal epilepsy) was caused due to a head injury she received while enslaved at the age of 12. She was hit in the head with a 2 pound iron weight that was thrown at another enslaved African but hit Tubman instead. After her head injury she began to see visions which she believed were from God.
Tubman never had any biological children. However, she and her second husband Nelson Davis adopted a child (a girl), Gertie in 1874.
When rescuing enslaved persons, she threatened to shoot any of her “passengers” who thought to turn back.
Tubman was a soldier, spy, and nurse for the Union Army during the civil war. She was known for her ability to treat dysentery successfully using native herbs.
She was the first woman to lead an armed war expedition during the Combahee River Raid with 300 other African American soldiers. 3 gun boats were used in the raid to liberate 700 enslaved blacks in South Carolina. She would later be denied payment for her war time service and was only able to collect a widow’s pension from her husband’s death which was $20/month. Ironically, in 2016, Tubman was selected to replace Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill which will be released in 2030.
In the late 1890’s Tubman had brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital due to pain and “buzzing” in her head which made it difficult for her to sleep (likely related to her childhood injury). She refused to take anesthesia and instead chewed a bullet during the operation. This was something she had seen soldiers do during the civil war when their limbs were amputated.
She established a home for the aged and indigent in Auburn, NY where she spent the last years of her life.
Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy is certainly one that deserves to be celebrated! She was truly a phenomenal woman.
Thornton and Lucie Blackburn fled from enslavement in Kentucky in 1831. They fled north to Detroit, MI and became beloved members of the local community. Their former master attempted to apprehend them from Detroit in 1833. The Blackburn’s were jailed for violating the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. A day before they were scheduled to be returned to slavery, the actions of several brave African American men and women secured their escape to permanent freedom. Continue reading “Detroit’s First Race Riot & Toronto’s First Cab Company”→