Sunday, February 5, 2017

Black History Month Celebrated with Herstory,Harriet Tubman

Metamora Herald Harriet Tubman
By Artist: H. Seymour Squyer, 1848 - 18 Dec 1905 - National Portrait Gallery, Public Domain,

During Black History Month, I always think of Harriet Tubman, and I know you guys are probably thinking oh ya railroad thing. She showed so much bravery and did so much for the people she loved, more than you realize. Harriet was involved in helping people her entire life. Until she physically couldn’t go anymore. The underground railroad saved so many lives and changed the way some people were dealing with slavery at the time. Even right here in Metamora.

Some of you probably already know this, but there is a famous Underground Railroad “Station” The Parker Morse House just north of Metamora. Slaves who had escaped would travel to these stations and brave men and women (conductors) would help them continue to their next destination. It was all very secretive and had to be handled so carefully for all involved. Abraham Lincoln as a young attorney actually defended some of those “conductors” locally and won the case on the grounds there was no proof of the person being helped by the “conductors” was a slave. Harriet Tubman worked with President Lincoln and the Union Army to defeat the South in the American Civil War. 

Famous for being an abolitionist and humanitarian, Harriet was now a spy for the U.S. Army. She was the 1st woman to lead an armed expedition in the Civil War. The raid at Combahee Ferry that she had guided led to the freedom of over 700 slaves.  This woman born into slavery and illiterate ran her missions as well as any highly educated officer in the army. 

On her 13 missions of the railroad, she saved over 70 families and friends. She came in the winter to get people and left at night. This is smart because the nights are longer in the winter and fewer people out. She would use spiritual songs as coded messages for danger or if there was safety. She always carried a revolver and never lost a passenger. Fortunately, for us girls, she fought alongside Susan B. Anthony during the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

Metamora Herald holding hands one black one white

Yes, even after the war she was fighting for the rights of others. She took care of her elderly parents until they passed away and helped other family members from time to time. She opened a home for senior citizens who were poor and had no family to care for them. Even though she sacrificed much of her life for others she was hardly ever paid and lived poorly. The government did not compensate her for her service in the Army until 1899. Harriet fought for women’s right to vote until she died of pneumonia in the elderly home she created. 

She was amazingly brave! I am so thankful she had so much courage when others had none. Thank you, Harriet. We at the Metamora Herald love the rich and diverse culture and histories we all come from here in the United States of America. February celebrates Black History Month and we would like to honor this celebration with stories about Black Women in history. These women have fought long, difficult battles to open doors and pave a way for us all to use. Thank you for all that you sacrificed and went through so the rest of us could have a chance. 

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