Today's post is by Askhari Johnson Hodari
Women's History Month
The train does not wait for the passenger. (Mozambique)
i found the shirt i have with her name on the back. Harriet. The shirt i wore when i ran the marathon. 26.2 miles. When you run a marathon, everyone, thousands of people stand on the sidelines and cheer. These people call your name. i knew if someone, if anyone called me Harriet, i could and would keep going. i knew hearing her name would keep me keeping on. With her name on my back, i would not quit. i kept heading north or south or in whatever direction i was going in. Who knows after more than 11 miles, 17, 21? Harriet knew.
Harriet is a 26.2-mile woman. A 30-mile woman. A thousand mile woman.
She is beautiful to me.
i woulda been her sisterfriend. Kept her secrets. Brushed her hair. Rubbed her temples when those blinding heachaches attacked her. i woulda done something to hurt John Tubman for having another woman in her bed. i’da cut him.
i woulda comforted her. Been her Ben, her Rit, her Marry. Been her more than friend. Her “go with.” Her “road dawg.” i would not have made her wait for me. Not asked her to wait with me. i’da looked for freedom with her.
i woulda learned to read and write just so i could warn her when we saw “wanted posters.” Dead or alive. Tell her `bout the Fugitive Slave Law. `Bout how the entire U.S. government had been called on to chase down and hunt free Blacks. Hooded, apparently mentally impaired, dressed as a man talking in tongues, i’da known Harriet on Saturday night. Told her that no matter how fast or far we ran, they would always be lookin’ for us; and smiled when she put on a disguise and pretended to read the newspaper or pulled a pistol. i’da told her there was nothing in the U.S. worth keeping if we couldn’t be free even though she already knew that. i’da moved to Canada with her, then.
i would not have turned back. Never made her pull her gun. On me?
i’da rubbed her shoeless feet. i’da let her get some sleep with that $40,000 bounty on her head.
She would not have been the only woman, Black or white; free or slave to plan, lead or carry out
an armed expedition against enemy forces during the Civil War. No. i’da been her “next to;” her “go to;” her “can you?”
i’da been real sweet home Alabama nice to Nelson. i’da sat in a rocking chair next to her in her home for ex-slaves with nowhere else to go. i’da told her she was better than Moses.
Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, i have always loved her.
i’da felt for moss as we escaped. i would not have let a woman only five feet tall walk through the dark looking for the North Star alone.
She was alone. Following the North Star. Heading somewhere free, on foot.
"I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scared, and foot-sore bondmen and women, who you have led out of the house of bondage and whose heartfelt `God bless you’ has been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witness of your devotion to freedom." –Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman, August 28, 1868
Araminta “Minty” Ross.
What manner of woman is this?
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