A special note today, as we pause to remember Harriet Tubman.
After an extraordinary life of dealing with pain from a blow to the head, a daring escape from her owner on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and countless acts of courage to help enslaved peoples flee via the Underground Railroad she knew so well, this great American passed away on March 10, 1913.
When Molefi Kete Asante set out the criteria for his book, “100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia,” it was as if he had Tubman in mind.
"self-sacrifice and a willingness to take great risks for the collective good"
"unusual will and determination in the face of great danger and against the most stubborn odds"
"a consistent posture toward raising the social, cultural and economic status of African Americans"
"personal achievement that reveals the best qualities of the African American people"
In 1990, the 101st Congress passed a law naming March 10 as, “Harriet Tubman Day.”
Kem Knapp Sawyer, author of several books on Tubman, writes an excellent piece in The Washington Post ("How Harriet Tubman’s story was saved"). She notes that in the years after her passing, Tubman’s story landed in the dusty bins of history. In the last several years, more research has been done. Sawyer writes:
Historians have solved that mystery: They found a record of a $2 payment made in 1822 to a midwife who was present at Harriet’s birth. She was not born in Bucktown, but 10 miles away in Harrisville, Maryland.
Maryland has set out a series of events this year to help remember the life of Harriet Tubman. Yesterday morning, VIP’s broke ground on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park. The 17-acre state park will feature a 15,000-square-foot visitor center, interpretive trails, spiritual reflection garden and memorial.
Today, the annual Eagle Festival near Cambridge will conduct a walk, headed up by Tony Cohen, an Underground Railroad historian, at 2:30 PM.