Abolitionist Harriet Tubman is in Texas. Since 2020, she’s been traveling and spreading her message of bodily autonomy, innate freedom and self-emancipation through Wesley Wofford’s “Journey to Freedom” sculpture. That people still gather around her is the sweetest repetition of history.

It makes sense since I don’t think of Harriet Tubman in the past tense. I write with the hope that we will catch her spirit and get indignant about our oppressive social conditions. So moved by her work and witness, I follow statues and monuments of her from state to state.

Sarah Bradford wrote about her this way in “Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People”: “All her wages were laid away with this sole purpose and as soon as a sufficient amount was secured, she disappeared from her Northern home and as suddenly and mysteriously she appeared some dark night at the door of one of the cabins on a plantation, where a trembling band of fugitives, forewarned as to time and place, were anxiously awaiting their deliverer. Then she piloted them North, traveling by night, hiding by day, scaling the mountains, fording the rivers, threading the forests, lying concealed as the pursuers. … So, she went nineteen times and so she brought away over three hundred pieces of living and breathing ‘property,’ with God given souls.”

Consequently, I will always sing her praises. I follow her leadership and appreciate the lengths she took to self-emancipate and then circle back nineteen times more. 

Why wait on other people to change their minds about what you already know about yourself? Why wait for laws to catch up to the freedom you have felt since the moment you were loosed from your mother’s umbilical cord? 

Instead, do what it takes to loose yourself and do it without hesitation, without reservation and most importantly, without explanation. Do it quickly and quietly and of course, without permission. Because you don’t ask for freedom; you take it back.

It is your natural state and you are just going back to your beginning. Reset your life before you were shackled to patriarchy, racism, sexism and all their supporting capitalist factory settings for these oppressive conditions. 

You know this doesn’t look right, which is why we are given the social prescriptions of race. They keep us in place, in black/ white, master-slave, minority/ majority, center/ marginalized categories, in this white supremacy-driven caste system.

Tubman reminds me to keep it moving, that there are better ways of being human. It is written in the stars and inscribed on the North Star specifically.

“We can get a fair idea of the range of meanings which people read into their own lives if we take three symbolic terms for life as a whole, which are very common. These are the treadmill, the saga and the pilgrimage,” Lewis Joseph Sherril wrote in “The Struggle of the Soul.”

My life changed when I ran away from home at twelve years old, when I put one foot in front of the other and distance between a toxic home environment and me. I marvel at the early inclination to leave because I needed to do right by me. 

For me, life is a pilgrimage to my holy center and this sacred sense of well-being. I’ve had a strong sense of somebodiness since I was an adolescent. So, I create distance between people and relationships that would try to talk me out of it.

I am somebody and it bears repeating. I am somebody.

We’ve long arrived at the moment Frank Zappa described: “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”

For the folks whose backs have been against the wall, as Howard Thurman described persons in oppressive conditions, this is a given, a well-known agreement and understanding of the American empire. Some are simply better at performing while others look for an exit early on.

That’s Mother Moses, me and plenty of other daring souls who took freedom into their own hands. I’m so grateful for her leadership and her leg of the soul’s journey. Marked by agency, autonomy, somebodiness and self-actualization, I follow the way of Harriet Tubman. Won’t you join us?

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