As she crossed the US border into Canada, said Tubman, “I looked at my hands; they looked new. I looked at my feet; they did too. I thought I was in heaven.” And, she was.
Owning and honoring one's life, rescuing others; making a better world is heavenly indeed—a gift of spirit this unparalleled shero (Underground Railroad conductor, Civil War strategist, human rights champion)—bequeathed us as she joined the ancestors on March 10, 1913.
Happy Women’s History Month, too!
Over the years I've heard writers say they write the books they need to read. For me, Sister Days was that book. It willed itself to life out of the conversations and context of the times. My friends wanted it. My children and their friends demanded it.
All of us were feeling the earth quake under us with the eruption of hard-core racial hatreds. It was the kind of hardship that comes when words like dark and black creep back into the lexicon to stand for all things negative; the kind of hardship that throughout history has arrived on the coattails of demagogues and demigods; the kind that penetrates to the bone and destroys a nation's soul.
But it is also the kind of hardship over which African Americans have triumphed many times in these 400 years since August 1619. We’d heard it in the Spirituals, seen it in the faces of our elders; read it in the eyes of our newest born. But, how had these victories taken place? How had we done it, day by day? I needed to know.
From that quest, Sister Days: 365 Inspired Moments in African American Women’s Historywas born.
Twenty years since its publication, the question I’m still most often asked is this: “Why didn’t someone tell me?” Some, their faces contorted in disbelief, mourn lives that, in a just world, could have—should have—been. Others, for whom I’m ever grateful, tell me how the stories in the book changed their lives; giving them how-tos and hope-fors.
I know the feeling. At critical junctures in my own life, not knowing the stories of our forebears and friends, their daring and caring, left me rudderless. Uncovering their problems—and problem-solving—helped me find my way.
The enslaved mother whose gift of love to her infant son before being sold away, fueled his spirit and gave me a sense of possibility. Freeing himself, he helped free others; changing his world—and mine.
The letter a young woman wrote to her future mother-in-law about falling in love with her best friend framed an all-important conversation with my daughters.
The teenage girl arrested for her selfless self-respect who made a federal case over her prosecutors' disrespect for Black women; made new law for us all.
As First Lady, Michelle Obama represents a proud tradition of “first” ladies making herstory as pioneers in every field. Celebrate Women’s History Month and test your knowledge of herstory with this fun FIRST LADIES CHALLENGE.
On the show
OMG, have we got a line-up for you this month!
March 7: I thought I was in Heaven: The Vision of Harriet Tubman Beyond legendary, who was she as a person? And, how did she buy the house that would become a National Historic Landmark?
March 14: No Going Back: Susan B. Anthony on “voting while female.”
March 21: How to Read a Protest: L. A. Kaufman on organizing for our lives in this critical presidential election and down-ballot year.
March 28: Janet Dewart Bell, Author, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement. Give a tip of the bonnet (or gélé or “crown,” if you will) to Mrs. Tubman’s “daughters”—sheroes all.
Happy Women's History Month! Janus
Emmy Award-winning journalist, author, historian, keynote speaker, Dr. Janus Adams is publisher of BackPaxKids.com and host of public radio’s
“The Janus Adams Show” and podcast.