A very long time ago, the sixteen-year-old version of me had the part of Harriet Tubman in a high school play. I remember thinking how weird it was to try to “inhabit the character,” as the teacher in charge was fond of saying. What did I know about being a Black woman? What did I know about escaping slavery? What did I know about the fear she felt or the life she lived? This long-ago foray into acting came back to me this week as I listened to some Black community leaders talk about what it feels like to be a Minnesotan right now. I have a quote from Harriet Tubman hanging on my office bulletin board that reflects much of what I heard those leaders saying.
Children, if you are tired, keep going. If you are scared, keep going. If you are hungry, keep going. If you want to taste freedom, keep going.
Harriet’s words sound like both a bit of balm and a whole lot of challenge as I read them with my April 2021 in Minnesota eyes.
What do her words say to you?