By Caroline O'Connor
I wanted to tell you about a woman in America who I didn't learn about in school. Ponder for a moment as you read, that her story was not deemed to be worth teaching in schools when I was a child. She is included on the curriculum now and immortalised in films. But what a terrible, terrible thing that children did not know her story and so, did not aspire to be like her and be inspired by her for so many years.
Harriet Tubman was held as a slave, captive and bound to unpaid, back-breaking labour since birth. She was five-foot-tall and disabled after being hit in the head when a white man threw a metal weight at another slave, missing but injuring Harriet instead. She escaped slavery when she was 27 and then she went back to free others, at least thirteen times. She is believed to have assisted over 300 people on the underground railroad. Later, she worked as a nurse and cook for the Union Army during the American Civil War, before becoming a scout and spy. She was the first woman to lead an armed assault in the war, freeing over 750 slaves in a single raid. In her later life, she was an activist for women's suffrage. In 1869, she was assaulted by a train conductor for refusing to move from the half price section to the baggage care, 85+ years before Rosa Parks made her historic refusal to give up her seat on a bus in 1955.
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She was clever and resourceful, dedicated to equality and supporting others. She is a hero. I leave you with this quote attributed to Harriet Tubman. "If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."