Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter - Life as a Slave

Harriet Tubman became associated with the phrase of a popular spiritual song:  "Let My People Go!"


Slave owners never really understood how slaves whom they "owned" heard "through the grapevine" about things which were happening in other states.  

For example, all the slaves on the plantation where Minty lived knew about a man named Nat Turner.  It was a story about a black slave in Virginia who led a revolt against white slave owners and killed more than 50 white men, women and children.  The slave owners did not want their slaves to get any ideas about doing similar things, so they passed laws making it illegal for slaves to gather together—even in church.  

Slave owners went even further.

To maintain control over slaves, laws in the American South made it illegal for slaves to get an education. They were not allowed to learn how to read and write—or even to sing spirituals which talked about freedom (such as "Go Down, Moses"). This song was about Moses leading Jews—who were slaves in Egypt—to freedom.  The owners were afraid that slaves would desire their own "Moses" to lead them to freedom.

But the owners could not legislate the thoughts of their slaves—and—slaves thought about freedom all the time.  They heard rumors of slaves who ran away from their owners, escaping north to "free" states where slavery was illegal.  They were tired of being property, of working like mules. They were fed-up with being punished or sold (if their owners wanted to sell-off their "property").  

One day, when Minty was a teenager, she saw a slave being chased by his owner. The same person "owned" Minty. He yelled at her to "Stop him so I can whip him!" 

Minty did not stop the fleeing slave.  Instead, she stepped in front of her owner so that he could not catch the slave.  The owner was furious. Picking-up a two-pound weight, he threw it in the direction of the running slave. Instead of reaching the fleeing slave, the heavy weight hit Minty instead.  

As the weight crashed into her forehead, fracturing her skull, Minty collapsed into a coma.  She drifted in-and-out-of-consciouness for about four months. Although her owner tried to sell her, no one would buy a wounded slave.  

This massive injury was the beginning of a recurring sleeping sickness which plagued Minty for the rest of her life.  At any time, without warning, she might fall into a deep sleep.  But this was also the beginning of a new respect the other slaves had for her. They stopped calling her Minty and started calling her by a new "grown-up" name:  "Harriet."

Original Release: Sep 11, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Nov 01, 2019

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"Life as a Slave" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 11, 2015. Jan 26, 2020.
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