All About History

SLAVE. SPY, SUFFRAGETTE

“When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven”
- Harriet Tubman

Any single one of the milestones that Harriet Tubman achieved in her life would be enough to cement someone’s place in the history books. She freed herself from slavery and went on to free others working on the Underground Railroad leading refugees out of the Southern slave States. She joined the Union Army as a spy, scout and nurse and even led an expedition to free slaves during the war. She fought for women’s right to vote after the war. And while all this was happening she battled personal heartache and physical disability. It’s an extraordinary and inspiring story, brilliantly retold by Erica Armstrong Dunbar in her new book, She Came To Slay, so we sat down to talk through it all.

What were some of the formative moments in Harriet Tubman’s upbringing, having been born a slave in Maryland?

I think that when we start thinking about Harriet Tubman, we have to think about her connection to her ancestors. I don’t begin the book in 1822 when she was born. I begin with the connection to her maternal grandmother who was a woman named Modesty who was forced to travel the Middle Passage and arrived in the colony of Maryland.

So, when I think about where Harriet Tubman’s story begins, I’d argue that it really

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