From our Sister Days: May 26, 1896
Thirty years after Emancipation, days after the Supreme Court legalized neo-slavery in the guise of Jim Crow, the most effective Underground Railroad conductor of all, the "Moses of her People," was still about the business of rescue.
As Harriet Tubman neared eighty years of age, the soldier in her rallied for another extraordinary campaign -- to expand her house into a home for refugee adults. On May 26, 1896, she was battling to purchase a twenty-five-acre site adjacent to her own home that she had envisioned as the collective farm that would support her mission.
With the pension due her as a scout for the Union Army denied her in a wash of racist politics; with her meager survivor's benefit as the widow of a Civil War veteran shaved to $20 per month; Mrs. Tubman -- just as she had in her nineteen Underground Railroad missions and three years as a spy for the Union -- found a way "in the wilderness," she made a "way out of no way" to reach her goal.
Unable to read or write, she dictated her autobiography and leveraged her future proceeds. Borrowing fifty dollars from anti-slavery friends, she used the books as collateral until she could repay them with advance sales.
At the land auction three weeks later, she bid on her dream crouched down at the back of the hall, so that "like a blackberry in a pail of milk" she would not be expelled. When the bid was won and her identity revealed, those who doubted that she had $1,450 did not know her. True to her motto, "Keep Going," the "General," as she'd been dubbed on earlier missions, led the charge to a bank where she mortgaged her good name and future title to the land.
As she would tell her passengers on the line as she led the way from bondage, "Children if you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want a taste of freedom, keep going."
More about Harriet Tubman on The Janus Adams Show
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