By COSEBOC friend and colleague, Pamela M. Tuck
I learned about Harriet Tubman in my high school history class, and her story empowered me. As soon as people hear her name, they instantly think of an African American heroine who led enslaved Black people to freedom through the Underground Railroad. She empowered others to claim the promise of freedom through the courage and bravery she exerted. Harriet Tubman is a woman to be remembered, a true example of sacrifice, and an icon who has shown how one person can empower a community, a nation, or even the world.
I wouldn’t want to experience the horrors of slavery that Harriet Tubman faced, but I took an opportunity to “walk in her shoes” when I starred as Harriet in a play I had written for a history competition. Although I placed “her shoes” back in their respected shoebox of history, her voice stayed with me, and found its way into a poem:
Harriet Tubman: An American Heroine
I learned hard work early; the lessons of slavery.
Working beside my Papa was the only joy for me.
My Papa’s name was Ben. He was an honest man.
The love we had between us, enslavers didn’t understand.
I could throw an axe as good as him. I pulled heavy loads for show.
My Papa taught me many things that others didn’t know.
Like how to walk the woods, without a single crack.
Like how to find which way was north, never looking back.
I found out how to love, and then leave it all behind.
How to tread upon the hopes that never left my mind.
The hope of freedom pushed me, made me take a chance.
That many wouldn’t dare to take because of circumstance.
My head was full of visions. Like a map, they guided me.
Onward north, I followed. To the land of liberty.
Then I had a mission, to set my people free.
I traveled back and forth to kill ole slavery.
The people called me Moses. The reward for me was high.
I didn’t let that stop me. I’d have liberty or die.
I was an engineer on the Underground Railroad.
Traveling trails through the night; secrets never told.
My faith kept me going. Many times I went back.
I never lost a passenger; Nor ran my train off the track!
—Pamela M. Tuck