by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)
“I know ya hafa run! Ya hafa run run run!”
I can hear these words emitting from the ancestral soul of my grandfather each time I get reconnected to the tracks of the Underground Railroad story.
I had no idea how much these words would push me on and on over the decades of my journey
As I dig through the records and the books and what people had scribed about all it took for them to be free.
I give thanks for knowing what they went through because it keeps the freedom energy within me.
Over two decades ago, GOD had it that I picked up a document for the “Underground Railroad Study” while I was on a journey retracing the tracks and footprints of people like Harriet Tubman, William Still, and Mary Ellen and William Craft. I then wrote a production called “The Underground Railroad: A Geechee Girl’s Escape” and was blessed to present it all over New York City and in various parts of South Carolina including on my home island St. Helena from which my freedom path began.
In numerous meetings for the “Underground Railroad Study,” I kept arguing the point that you can’t tell the stories from up north! Where did the people run from? They came from the plantations of the south! People self-emancipated from those fields. They didn’t wait for a Quaker or anyone else to come tap them on the shoulder. It was within their own hearts and souls to RUN!
Ultimately, the Underground journey took me northward to DC and to Philly to tell the Underground Railroad story from the perspective of the Gullah/Geechee. It showed that people fought and that the freedom trail did not just go north. Many went south and some even went west. When I finally saw the map for what became the “National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom,” I knew I’d been blessed!
All my life I had a connection to this story because the first book I ever checked out of a library as a child was Harriet Tubman’s story. I have numerous awards for embodying her spirit and her energy. So, there was truly no surprise for me to go from helping establish the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom to working on the Harriet Tubman Study.
What I researched about Harriet Tubman and her living in what we call “Town” would land on deaf ears of the historians that Beaufort County, SC had around. It took decades for her name to be accepted as having been here as a soldier, scout, nurse and a business owner too. The story truly has not fully been told about all that she came to the Sea Islands to do. Nonetheless, we have a bridge to honor her and soon there will also be a sculpted monument too. Mother Moses if no one else has done so, I say, “Thank you.”
I thought that with the successful progress of what is being done for Harriet Tubman now including the possibility of her being on a US bill, there was nothing left to engage in regarding this part of the freedom story. So, I continued on with this modern day freedom fight which is quite a journey. Along the way, I got an email saying that folks from “Underground” would like to talk to you. I had to verify that this was the WGN TV folks and that this was actually true. I recalled how in Season 1 they sang a Gullah/Geechee song and how I felt that our energy had reached them, but it is only when we are together that the polyrhythmic power gets strong. I found myself recalling the moment that I got multiple tags on Facebook because Ernestine sat there singing a Gullah/Geechee spiritual in a way that made the words seem like simply a dream. The shock of hearing music of the Gullah/Geechee Nation on one of my favorite TV shows caused me to scream!
Due to John Legend and WGN the dream of seeing the Underground story of the freedom fighters had finally come to be. It also turned out that this spirit of freedom had continued to reach out far ahead of me and this entire set of show producers was considering coming to shoot in this land of the Gullah/Geechee. I told them how this entire story had continued to inspire and uplift and how their arrival on our coast could be nothing short of a gift. So, in they came with all it took to shoot Season 2 and then I got multiple emails and a call saying, “The folks of Underground are looking for you!” So, what was there left for me to do, but put on again my running shoes and get to the set. I thought Season 1 was fire, but Season 2 is about is hot as it can get!
As I looked out over the ancestral spirits surrounding everyone that thought that they were just cast and crew, it was hard for me to contain myself I just gotta tell you! I got to shoutin more than one time each day! The images are often much more than the words can say. So, I invite those not familiar with “Underground” on WGN to watch the Season 1 Marathon on February 25th with a friend. If you saw it last season, watch it all over again!
On March 8th, it is time to do what we who believe in freedom often have to do, we fight, we run, and we live to fight again too! So, afta hunnuh chillun see disya, hunnuh gwine no why and wha hunnuh hafa run to. See ef hunnuh kin catch me, cuz disya Gullah/Geechee ooman dun runnin fa freedum way ahead ob u!