Social Justice Activists | Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman photoBorn in 1822 as Araminta Ross in the County of Dorchester on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Harriet Tubman played many roles as a Social Justice Activist.  She was an abolitionist, a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, a nurse, a social reformer, and even a spy.  She took the name of her mother Harriet Ross in 1844.  At around the same time she married a free black named John Tubman.  Harriet Tubman has been credited in recent historical research with helping seventy to eighty slaves to their freedom via the Underground Railroad. 

Tubman was born to parents who were also slaves: Harriet Green and Ben Ross.  As a child, Harriet Tubman showed her disdain for the system of slavery by consistently and valiantly refusing to cooperate.  She ran away for a period of five days when she was a young girl.  As a teenager, when ordered to help tie down another slave as punishment, she refused.  The overseer threw a two pound weight at her, striking her and causing an injury that would result in a lifetime of narcoleptic seizures.  Despite the threat of physical violence, Harriet Tubman refused to take part in violence inflicted upon fellow slaves.  This resolve would last throughout the rest of Harriet Tubman’s life.   

During the Civil War, Tubman worked as a nurse, helping injured soldiers.  She also helped women who were former slaves gain their independence by encouraging them to aid in the war effort by washing and cooking for the soldiers.  Tubman was also responsible for sending information on storage, ammunition, and other military spy material to the Union forces while she was traveling through the Confederacy.  Her appearance and experience as a former slave aided her in sneaking through the Confederate States.  While traveling, she was able to connect to various networks and aid the escape of slaves.  Harriet Tubman remained in poverty for her entire life, but only personally.  Her reputation and the high esteem in which she was held in made it easy for her to raise money for her altruistic causes.  Harriet Tubman passed away in 1913 in Auburn, New York.  


Sources used (Available through McGrath Library) 

Risjord, N. K. (2002). Harriet Tubman: Moses to her people. In Representative Americans: The Civil War Generation. New York: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. [E467 .R57]

Ross, R. E. (2004). Tubman, Harriet. In Gates Jr., H. L. & Higgenbotham, E. B. (Eds.). (2004). African American Lives. New York: Oxford University Press. [REF E185.96 .A446]

Tubman, Harriet. (2015). In Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press. Retrieved

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Tubman, Harriet Ross (1821-1913). (2015). In the Hutchinson unabridged encyclopedia with atlas and

Weatherguide. Abington, UK: Helicon. Retrieved from CREDO Reference [].