One of Philadelphia’s and the nation’s leading collectors of African-American artifacts has given the Smithsonian over historic artifacts owned by former slave, abolitionist, and Underground Railroad Conductor Extrodinaire Harriet Tubman to a to be a part of the National Museum of African-American History scheduled to open in 2015 here in Washinton, DC.
Charles Blockson, curator emeritus of the Charles Blockson Afro-American collection at Temple University, received 39 personal items from the estate of Underground Railroad Conductor Harriet Tubman from Tubman’s great-niece, who willed them to Blockson two years ago because she believed that he, Blockson says, would know what to do with them. source
When I took a look at some of the photos posted of the items in the Tubman collection, one of the struck me in a way that I can’t explain. You see, in her hymnal Harriet Tubman Davis wrote her name. She would write her own name! She didn’t leave and X as her mark and this was more than a meer scribble or attempt at writing. I saw the handwriting of a woman who shouldn’t have been able to clearly create letters with pen, let alone bring hundreds of slaves to freedom. I felt for someone who knew the true power of being able to read and write. It made me think a little more about the words I’m able to write. And about the fact that it is a privilage that my ancestors fought for.
I write here, on this blog. I’m not a freedom fighter in the way that Harriet was, but I do want to make others think. Perhaps I can even inspire or motivate others to action. Perhaps something here will make someone’s mind a little more free. Make them question and reflect on race, racism, blackness, and our community. I know that words, typed, written, or read…they have power. Thank you Harriet, for that little reminder written in a church hymal. They are a blessing to me.