Keeping the Spirit of Harriet Tubman Alive
In an effort to get a sense of what our children were experiencing, I started looking at the practices of adults, looking for signs that we were preparing them to make this country value human life more than money. Holiday observations became suspect. I gave up on Thanksgiving because the plight of the indigenous people was completely omitted. I was even suspect about Black History Week’s expansion to a month. I wondered if we used our history makers as proof to our young that they too have come with a purpose and the ability to make a difference. Or did we simply use them to compete with white America’s history makers? Do we acknowledge the innate genius waiting to unfold in each and every child – to affirm and expect their ability to make history? Or have we bought into the lie that intelligence is defined by and only bestowed among a few?
While we celebrate the actions our history makers took or the words they spoke, how much do we know about the values that determined the choices they made? Exploring quotations from Black history makers, I was especially moved by two quotes attributed to Harriet Tubman.
“Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”- Harriet Tubman
The current upheaval in the school system indicates a need and an opportunity to step back and plan a People’s Movement for the Children. Adults have done a great job of fighting each other over the years on whether it was integration of schools or community control of schools. Time and energy that could have been devoted to making the educational system more meaningful for the children , to redefine success, to track post- high school accomplishments (when was college entrance designated the epitome of success and by whom?). What happened to the Independent Black School Movement? That’s not a rhetorical question.. I’d like to know and I think we, adults, could learn lessons that would benefit the children.
The above quote by Harriet Tubman strikes a core realization – we can’t remember what we’ve never known. Where have you learned that you possess the qualities she cites in this quote?
And if you did, specifically who facilitated that lesson? These qualities emanate from an environment that is free from fear or threat; where physical needs are met, and where one experiences love, affection, human contact and a sense of belonging. That’s the foundation that’s needed for our children to recognize and pursue their passion. Schools are structured to provide pedagogy. The job of emotional grounding is up to us. Let’s face it – our job is healing our relationships and organizing our homes to provide our children with the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars. When we do that, they will change the schools and the world.
“I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more if only they knew they were slaves.”-Harriet Tubman
The lesson here is each and everyone has their own perspective. We waste time debating, challenging, attacking those with different points of view that could and should be spent on proactive movement to solve the problem as we see it. The goal should be to state the problem as clearly as possible as well as agreeing upon and prioritizing the proposed causes. We’re then ready
to attack the causes. During the course of the work, others who didn’t realize there was a problem may see it differently or they may not. The important thing is that those who did exert their energy will receive the benefits from making a difference. Harriet Tubman made a difference with the thousands that recognized they were slaves. We who recognize that home is the base of empowerment for our children can empower ourselves and our children who will change their schools and the world.
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