March: The end of winter. The turn to spring. And, perhaps most importantly: The celebration of Women’s History Month, when we honor the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
I’ve always known that despite paving my own path through life, I’ve been able to do it bravely because of the courage, the curiosity, and the persistence of the women who came before me.
This Women’s History Month, I’m marveling at the strength of Harriet Tubman, a woman who, after a hard-earned journey to freedom, called the Finger Lakes home.
Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman managed her own escape from Maryland via the Underground Railroad. Once she’d reached the safety of Pennsylvania, though, she decided to return and help others make the safe journey north as an Underground Railroad conductor. She ended up leading her parents, several siblings, and more than 60 others to freedom.
During the Civil War, she worked for the Union Army, initially as a cook and nurse, but eventually as an armed scout and spy. In fact, she was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war -- one that liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.
Her’s is a story that required courage, curiosity, and persistence. What’s truly amazing, though, is that her work was done from a place of love, of obligation, and of joy -- even in a time when she herself had suffered the monstrosities of slavery.
A $40,000 reward on her head and bounty hunters set to earn it couldn’t measure up to the thank yous of the souls she led through the Underground Railroad. Being a woman wouldn’t hold her up from leading armed expeditions in the War. And neither bounties nor her gender could stop her from courageously doing work that would change the world.
While painting her Auburn, NY home after a visit there, I could feel her strength. Her courage. Her unbreakable backbone that gave her the necessary persistence to pursue her work.
The women who’ve come before us have truly done remarkable things.
I’ve written about many here before:
> I’ve stood on the same sacred ground as Susan B. Anthony, and Jigonsaseh.
> I’ve witnessed Georgia O’Keefe and openly admired her unparalleled conviction.
> I’ve felt the courage that emanates when you visit the birthplace of women’s rights, thanks to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her Center of Rebellion.
Today is our chance to write the current course of history. To find our own source of courage, curiosity, and persistence. To leave this world in better shape than how we found it.
P.S. Fun fact: Our 1799 post-and-beam home in Bloomfield, NY, is speculated to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. A local historian whose mother previously owned our home described a hidden room behind the upstairs fireplaces. Might Harriet Tubman herself have guided a group through these very walls? Wonder is everywhere, friends.