May 292016

Boston Harriet Tubman Memorial
Boston’s Harriet Tubman Memorial

The Harriet Tubman Memorial in Boston’s South End, just a couple blocks from my house.  I walked over to Harriet Tubman Park after last month’s announcement that Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill.

As noted in this Washington Post article, there is a lot of false or distorted mythology surrounding Tubman and the true story of her heroism and fight to free slaves is even more inspiring than the simplified narrative taught in schools and reduced to historical markers. Tubman made fewer trips and freed fewer slaves through the Underground Railroad than is commonly believed, but those journeys were much more complicated and dangerous than typically depicted. Tubman’s roles as an abolitionist and spy for the Union Army during the Civil War are not well-known, but are a big part of her legacy.

Emancipation Monument in Harriet Tubman Park | Step Aboard the Underground Railroad Marker

Here’s some more about Tubman’s ties to Boston abolitionist movement and her role in the Civil War from the Boston Globe:

Harriet Tubman’s ties to Massachusetts extend much further than the sculpture in the South End depicting her leading slaves to freedom. Historians say Tubman had strong links to the Boston abolitionist movement and played a large role in uplifting black Union soldiers. Boston is considered one of America’s leading cities for the abolitionist movement. Some homes in Boston were turned into safe havens on the Underground Railroad, including the Lewis and Harriet Hayden House on Phillips Street, according to the Museum of African American History. Lewis Hayden later became a recruiting agent for the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Civil War. Tubman was active with the 54th and other Union forces during the war, after her Underground Railroad days were behind her. She spied on Confederate forces and also worked as a cook and battlefield nurse.

Tubman also became a prominent advocate for women’s suffrage, and spoke at Boston suffragist conventions. And here’s more here about Boston’s African American Meeting House and Museum and the Black Heritage Trail.