Last week, I had the opportunity to get away for a few days with my daughters during their Fall Break from school. After a busy start of the academic year with both girls at new schools, I was looking forward to some downtime where we could connect and relax.
Months ago, I saw an advertisement for the movie Harriet, the story about the well-known abolitionist, Harriet Tubman. I was immediately thrilled to discover that a movie was being made about an American hero that I had learned about and admired since childhood.
My excitement was magnified when I saw that Tony Award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo was starring as the title character. She has previously won a Tony Award for her role as Celie in The Color Purple on Broadway, and I was excited to see her in the role starring as this magnanimous character.
Once I saw the movie was premiering at the start of the girls’ Fall Break, I started planning for a road trip. I remembered visiting her childhood home about 15 years earlier while driving through the Eastern Shore of Maryland, heading to Ocean City. I decided to research and see if there were any other points of historical interest in that region that we could include for an enjoyable road trip.
To my great surprise and delight, I found an entire Underground Railroad Byway that centered on Harriet’s birthplace of Dorchester County, and had 36 points of interest over a 125-mile trail to freedom.
I immediately started planning and researching to make this trip a reality. I knew there weren’t many opportunities for the girls to experience such a proud part of American history, and especially so near to home, where they could experience it up close and personal.
Finally, it was the opening weekend for the movie! People were posting all over Social Media about how inspiring and amazing the movie was. My excitement grew, and finally it was our turn to see it.
We attended a red-carpet event with the NAACP and my Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. In the lobby, I kept running into friends and associates – and even spotted a childhood friend that I hadn’t seen in years!
My excitement was uncontainable. To watch this biopic in a theater full of people I knew, who were just as excited as I was to see it made the experience all the grander. We cheered at the same scenes; also laughed, cried, pondered, and rejoiced throughout the story.
Leading up to the Fall Break, the girls didn’t seem to be terribly excited about my planned road trip. But after the movie, we were all pumped and ready to hit the road to learn more about Harriet’s experience.
As we drove toward the Eastern Shore the next day, I kept observing the woodlands, the open fields, and the farmland. I tried to imagine what it looked like back in the mid-1800s, and how I would have felt traveling alone by foot through that landscape in the dead of night as a 20-something year-old young woman.
I always thought that the “Moses” of the Underground Railroad was a remarkable woman, but going deeper into her journey, I learned that she was a deeply spiritual person who relied on God for every journey she made from the slave state of Maryland to the free state of Pennsylvania.
And I realized that it was only by God’s hand that she was able to make that amazing journey – not only the first time, but almost 20 more times after that!
Harriet Tubman was an unselfish woman, who was willing to risk everything to gain her freedom. And although I always knew she led others out of slavery – what I didn’t know was that she always went back to her home county in Maryland to bring the rest of her family to freedom as well.
Sometimes they ran away with her, and other times they didn’t. But she never wasted a trip, if the family members she came back for couldn’t or wouldn’t leave, Harriet was willing to lead the slaves that wanted to run away for freedom.
Harriet believed that God specifically instructed her along her journey, sometimes having her change her usual path, to avoid unseen danger up ahead.
As I was preparing to write for this week’s blog, I knew I wanted to write about her story and my experience, and I pondered about what lesson could be learned from her life.
Harriet could have stayed up north, and went on living her life in freedom, instead of continually risking being captured and taken back to slavery, or even killed. But she chose to go back and lead others through the same path that she had taken to freedom.
Many of us have overcome certain challenges and have found freedom in areas of our lives. Have you…
Overcome bad money habits and found financial freedom?
Conquered challenges with your weight?
Found a way to control your angry outbursts?
Worked through issues in a challenging marriage or relationship?
Discovered practical ways of parenting that has resulted in less conflict in your household?
How many of us have been successful in a certain situation, but may see others still in bondage, struggling from the very thing that we were able to overcome?
We can choose to follow Harriet’s example when we know there is a bigger purpose in life other than ourselves, our comfort, and our freedom.
Today I challenge you to be the Moses for someone in your circle. Whatever you’ve been able to overcome, no matter how small and insignificant you may think it is, someone else could learn from your wisdom and experience.
If you see someone else struggling, reach out with guidance and support. Post about a victory you’ve overcome. Join a small group to support others. Share your personal testimony. Be a mentor.
Be courageous and like Harriet, lets starting leading others on the path to their freedom!
When is the last time you reached out to help someone in need?
What is a strength that you have, or an obstacle that you were able to overcome that you could share with others to help them overcome?
So…what’s stopping you?
Feel free to share your response in the comments section…