Today, we take some time to honor Harriet Tubman on the 100th year anniversary of her passing (March 10, 1913)
We give thanks for her work on the abolition movement,
for leading hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
And yes, we give thanks to her for having a holistic sense of justice,
in seeing the connection between racism and sexism.
We give thanks for her fight for women’s rights,
because as she said, she had “I suffered enough to believe it. ”
But in addition, we give thanks for the Tubman helping us reach the realization that our liberation is not merely about achieving a certain level of political and economic rights and freedoms. Those are necessary, but not sufficient.
Real freedom comes when we liberate our own selves from every bit of oppression and hatred from the oppressor that we have internalized.
And sadly, as Ms. Tubman recognized, all too often we devour the hatred and loathing of our oppressor, without even being aware of the violence that we have internalized and came to see as our own true self. We become slaves to this internalized hatred, without even knowing that we are in bondage.
How do we tell the oppressors that we do not grant them power over us? This is a challenge for many of us, even onto today.
This is more than merely knowing how to fight oppression.
And it is more than merely turning the other cheek.
It is actually making the bold decision to state that our sense of how we are, and our self-worth, will not be defined through the venom of the oppressors.
That worth will come from within, and from God, and from us, all of us.
That is what led Harriet Tubman to state at the end of her life: “I am at peace with God and all mankind.”
What a beautiful place to get to.
How sweet this liberation, that leads to the embrace of all.
Liberation comes when we free ourselves from that internalized tyranny, and when inner freedom and outer freedom meet.
Many advocates of social justice have reminded us : Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.
Harriet Tubman showed us how.
Thank you Ms. Tubman.
May we have the courage to look at her not as an icon of the past, but as a beacon that must be pursued here and now, if we are to emancipate ourselves from inner and outer oppression today.