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Overcoming adversity

During one of my mentor sessions, I was educated about a bit of American history, specifically about a lady called Harriet Tubman.  A short biography can be found here:  http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761567329/Harriet_Tubman.html and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Tubman

I was struck by how she overcame so many obstacles to make such a significant impact on the lives of so many others.

  • Born to slave parents and therefore she was destined to be a slave too.
  • She was a woman at a time when women had few rights.
  • She was African American at a time when racism was deemed acceptable in the South.
  • She was hired out as a slave while she was still a child.
  • She was beaten and whipped on numerous occasions.
  • She was illiterate.
  • As a teenager she was almost killed after being struck in head by a weight that was thrown at her by the overseer of an escaping slave.  She suffered from headaches, seizures and bouts of sleeping spells for the rest of her life because of this injury.
  • Despite numerous attempts, her poor health meant that she could not be sold.
  • Her family was split up because they were sold as slave to out-of-state masters.
  • She used to work as a domestic worker to make enough money so that she could head back to the South to help free slaves.
  • Despite working for the military for no pay, she was denied a military pension after the war too.
  • She struggled financially her whole life.

Despite these obstacles, her achievements are astounding!

  • She managed to escape from slavery in the South.
  • She worked as a domestic worker to raise funds that enabled her to return to the South to free more slaves.
  • She then returned to free her family from slavery.
  • Her military service started with her serving as a cook and nurse before she migrated to a more active roles as a spy and scout behind enemy lines.
  • She continued to return to the South and liberated a reported 70 to 300 slaves. (exact number is unclear)
  • Her nickname was “Moses”
  • She never lost a single slave on her many rescue missions.
  • After the war she cared for her parents.
  • She started a new career as a community activist, humanitarian, and suffragist.
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