When we hear the name Harriet Tubman, we think of a woman who led hundreds of slaves to freedom during the Civil War. We may recall that she was also a suffrage activist, an army medic, a gifted tactician, and the first woman ever to lead an armed expedition for the U.S. Army.
What many people don’t realize is that despite her unparalleled achievements, she spent her final years in dire economic straits, working in white families’ homes to support herself and her family. Although she served as a spy for the Union Army, she was not able to get a pension in her own right for her service to her country. After years of agitation, Tubman at last received a pension--not as Harriet Tubman, Moses, the Conductor of the Underground Railroad, the General, or an army medic, but as the wife of Private Nelson, a soldier in the Union Army.
A century after her death, what we can learn from Harriet Tubman's refusal to adhere to the limits placed on her race and gender by society? How has her legacy inspired and informed Black women who came after her, such as Rosa Parks, Recy Taylor, Ida B. Wells, Pauli Murray, and Shirley Chisholm? In what ways do women and girls of color continue to be erased from contemporary racial and gender justice agendas?
Tracing a history of race-centered and gender-centered social movements, from the Millions Man March to the Women’s Suffrage Movement to #MeToo, Harriet's Daughters featured a keynote talk by Kimberle Crenshaw, a theatrical production exploring Harriet's life and legacy through music, dance and drumming, a panel discussion with Barbara Arnwine, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, and Samantha Master, and a reception with engagement stations for deeper connections to Harriet’s legacy.