The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture Honors the 170th Anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s Escape From Slavery
Greetings to my fellow Marylanders and visitors of our beautiful state,
Today, September 17th, marks the 170th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s courageous and daring escape from slavery to freedom. As the Chair of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC), I invite you to take a moment to reflect on the determination and courage of a woman born a slave here in Maryland who would become a fierce fighter for racial and gender equality in America.
Araminta “Minty” Ross changed her name to Harriet Tubman and in 1849 fled slavery armed with nothing more than her faith in God and instructions from the local network of freedom supporters. She traveled by night from Maryland’s Eastern Shore through the slave state of Delaware following the North Star until she reached the free state of Pennsylvania. Yet, freedom was bittersweet. “I was free,” she later recalled, “but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom.”
Determined to return to Maryland to help members of her family escape to freedom, she joined the anti-slavery community and Underground Railroad networks in Philadelphia which provided the support she needed to return as a fugitive over 13 times to Maryland to help liberate family members and other enslaved persons to freedom. This daring fete earned her the nickname “The Moses of her people.”
Her bravery continued through her service as a scout and a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, where she was the first woman to lead an armed mission of war helping to liberate more than 700 enslaved persons. Following the war, she fought vehemently for the right of women to vote. Her advocacy would continue for the remainder of her life.
While I cannot begin to imagine the horror of facing such danger, especially under the threat of captivity, as an African American woman, I am both proud and grateful for Harriet Tubman’s example of determination and courage that defied incredible odds to help change the world. Her efforts serve as a reminder to all of us that we, too, must continue to stand for freedom for all by standing against oppression and injustice of any kind, despite the obstacles we must face. With faith, determination, and courage we can change Maryland and our world for the better.
Rev. Dr. Tamara E. Wilson