"I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other." — Harriet Tubman 1
Harriet Tubman (born "Araminta Ross," Circa March 1822 — March 10th, 1913) was a Black Abolitionist who escaped slavery, became a Union Spy during the American Civil War and made thirteen (13) missions to rescue hundreds and some say thousands of slaves, via a network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. As a child in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman was beaten by various slave masters to whom she was hired out. At the age of 12 she was hit in the head by a White overseer for refusing to tie up a slave who attempted escape. The injury resulted in disabling seizures and headaches which occurred throughout her entire life. Married to John Tubman, a free Black man at the age of 25, Mrs. Tubman was a Suffragette known to celebrate the strength of Black women and fought all her life for their dignity and respect. While a Bounty of $40,000 was offered by plantation owners for her capture, Tubman was never captured and spoke often and publicly about her experiences. As a Devout Christian, Harriet described her visions and vivid dreams as revelations from God. In light of March being celebrated as Women's History Month, this Heroine Of Great Faith comes to mind.
Despite The Laws Of The Land
"I would fight for my liberty so long as my strength lasted, and if the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me." — Harriet Tubman 2
The 1850 federal fugitive slave law amended an earlier statute from 1793 that had provided for the return of runaway slaves who crossed state lines. The new, tougher measure was an essential component of the so-called Compromise of 1850 because the measure was designed to address longstanding southern complaints about the Underground Railroad. Resistance to the new law, however, soon proved widespread and the measure only further inflamed sectional antagonism. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Rescuing Fugitive Slaves From U.S. Marshals
Despite the laws of the land that allowed slavery, the Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850. As part of the Compromise of 1850 between the slave holding interests of the South and the political interests of North, the Fugitive Slave Law allowed for the return of escaped slaves to the south. Abolitionists and other opponents of slavery and the Fugitive Slave Law willfully and as a matter of conscience violated the law by rescuing fugitive slaves from the custody of U.S. Marshals. Sister Tubman's courage and strength exposed the dark cruelty of slavery as she removed its cloak of acceptability by liberating her people. Even the risk of being betrayed by her own people did not compromise her convictions. Harriet Tubman who once said: "I freed a thousand slaves [and] I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves," 3 tirelessly continued to lead "whosoever will be free" to freedom. Perhaps Frederick Douglass said it best when he wrote in a letter to honor her: "I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than [Harriet Tubman]." 4 Harriet is truly a model for those of us fighting for life and liberty today.
21st Century Abolitionists
"Never wound a snake; kill it." — Harriet Tubman 5
1850 Boston Slave Notice
As was the case in Harriet Tubman's day when slaves were legally recognized as property and not persons, so is the case today for children inside the womb of their mothers. Just like slave owners justified slavery by arguing for "property rights," today Planned Parenthood justifies taking the God given life of a pre-born child by arguing for "reproductive rights." Like the Kidnappers and Slave Catchers in the 1800s, the abortion industry today pursues any baby that escapes its net of unconscionable and unconstitutional laws such as this year's New York City's City Council Bill No. 371 with taxpayer dollars.
Brothers, we really need to talk.
Nonetheless and in the face of what appears to be overwhelming odds, like the Underground Railroad of Harriet Tubman's day, Pregnancy Care Centers and other ministries such as Rachel's Vineyard, Abortion Recovery InterNational, Inc., Silent No More Awareness and the On One Accord Foundation, across the country, serve as safe havens for women providing health care services, counseling, community, food, lodging, money and even support for those that need help finding jobs. By reaching one woman and one child at a time and serving as stops along the way to biblically-based reproductive freedom for women, such ministries are today's 21st Century Abolitionists.
By 1831 railroading terms were being used to refer to the Underground Railroad. The homes and businesses where runaway slaves rested were called "Stations" and "Depots." The "Stations" and "Depots" led by "Stationmasters." "Conductors" were responsible for moving slaves from one station to the next. Those who contributed money or goods were called "Stockholders." 6 Using modern day financial terms, I am asking each of us to take stock of the horrific reality of thirty-eight (38) years of legalized abortion in America and invest our time, talent and treasure in today's Underground Railroad.
1. Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2005, "Harriet Tubman Quotes," I regret that I am not be able to provide more details regarding the original source. For more information visit (http://bit.ly/eMcxAX).
4. Bradford, Sarah (1961). Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People. New York: Corinth Books, pp. 134-135.
5. Jone Johnson Lewis, op. cit.
6. PBS Online, "The Underground Railroad," circa 1780 - 1862 (http://to.pbs.org/7EYEAG).