Winter is almost over, and spring is around the corner. Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? In honor of this, I decided to share with you what I learned about Harriet Tubman. We all know who she was, but the one thing that you may not know about her is that she was disabled.
Harriet Tubman is known as one of the most influential leaders of our nation. She was a former slave turned abolitionist and bravely risk her life to save her own family and other slaves through the Underground Railroad. She had a very important mission and that mission was to lead as many men, women and children out of enslavement and into a world of freedom.
She was born and raised in Dorchester, County, Maryland, around 1820. As a child, Tubman was beaten and whipped by her various masters. During her teenage years, she acquired a traumatic brain injury, caused by her slave owner hitting her in the head with a heavy metal weight. The slave owner didn’t intend to hit her. He was trying to hit another slave, but Tubman stepped in, risking her life to get hit instead. The traumatic brain injury caused her to develop epileptic seizures and hypersomnia. Unfortunately, the daily violence that she experienced made her brain injury worse.
After the injury, Tubman experienced strange visions and vivid dreams. She claimed that they were signs from God. These types of experiences led her to become devoutly religious. She once said, “I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.”
Tubman didn’t let her disability bring her down. In 1849, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, but then came back to Maryland to rescue her family. She eventually guided a dozen other slaves to freedom. She thought that it would be better to travel by night, because it was safer and secretive.
Following the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Tubman helped fugitive slaves get to Canada. She also helped newly freed slaves find work. In 1858, she met John Brown and helped him plan and recruit supporters for his 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. During the Civil War, Tubman served as a cook and nurse for the soldiers. She then became an armed scout and a spy, becoming the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war. Later in life, she established a home for elderly African Americans.
About Zoe Hernandez: Zoe lives in Meriden, Connecticut. A Quantum® brand ambassador, Zoe attends Abilities Expos and speaks with people about her disability. She is currently enrolled in college and hopes to work in a community one day with people who are just like her. Click here to learn more about Zoe.