Posts Tagged ‘Harriet Tubman’

Unveiling Harriet Tubman’s Work in Beaufort, SC

October 18, 2017

My entire life it seems that I have been on a journey with Mother Moses Harriet Tubman.   One of the first books that I ever took out of a library was a book about her life which led to me continuously seeking out more books about her.  Eventually, this led to me reading about the lives of countless others that self-emancipated and those that assisted with the Underground Railroad.

I started to travel to towns that I read about and would walk up to the doorways of homes that I believed were the addresses of safe houses.  Fortunately, GOD kept me safe as I entered these homes that sometimes had historic markers outside and others that I was told were down the road or down the hill.  I walked into these places as a complete stranger and actually went into hiding places inside of walls so that I would have the same experience that our ancestors that refused to remain enslaved had.

Along the way, I got to see wagons with hiding places built into them and I got to talk to descendants of these conductors and passengers who would recount the stories to me the way they had been passed down in their families.  I not only spoke to people in the United States, but crossed over into Canada to find the town that was settled by Josiah Henderson who was the person that the character, “Uncle Tom” was based on.  It saddens me that a man that took his freedom and independently built an area where he could assist other Black people in their freedom through economic empowerment has had his true story erased by fiction and negativity.  If people knew his story, they would take no offense at being an “Uncle Tom.” Thousands are still unaware of his land ownership and his life’s work.

Just like Mother Moses, I made it to Canada searching for that “Promised Land,” but ended up coming back across the boarder into New York.  My journey to upstate New York led me to another safe house that had a marker, but didn’t allow public tours.   Yet, the owner let me come inside and she took me through the house and then encouraged me to stop by the Seward House once I told her that I was on my way to the home of Harriet Tubman.   Little did I know that the mansion that was the Seward House was a necessary part of knowing the truth of Harriet Tubman’s story in New York.  William H. Seward offered to give Harriet Tubman land on which to live and she refused to take anything for free.  She worked to pay him for the land and obtained her deed for it.

As part of my journey, GOD had it that I would work with the Underground Railroad Study and be a featured presenter when we unveiled the logo for the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Hundreds of us came together to fight for national recognition of the stories of Harriet Tubman and the others who laid the tracks to freedom via the Underground Railroad.  Now that the network was established, more focus came to the most well known conductor, Harriet Tubman.  So, we got enlisted into working on the Harriet Tubman Study.  Just as when Mother Moses heard of the war being fought that could help emancipate her people, I did as she did and signed up for this service.

While we worked on the Harriet Tubman Study, I thought of her journey from upstate New York to Beaufort, SC.  I thought of traveling all that way by foot with a bounty on her head.  Yet, my thoughts could never fully encapsulate the magnitude of such a journey until I made my way up these hills and mountains in New York State to get to her lovely home in Auburn.  I was in a car and found some of the terrain unbelievable to navigate.  So, thinking of walking and being in carts while also having to costume and camouflage yourself in order to insure that you were not recaptured and sold or killed for the bounty only added more to the magnitude of the mission.

I was blessed on my mission to meet family members of Harriet Tubman that were still running the small interpretive center and the home.   I got a chance to talk to them and tell them where I was from and the distance I had traveled to finally visit this place.  They were happy to hear it and they shared answers to several questions that I had.  However, Beaufort, SC didn’t seem to trigger anything significant with them or to strike any chords.

Thankfully the Civil War and people leaving the north to head southward to help did strike a chord with Mother Moses Harriet Tubman which led her to Beaufort, SC.   Thankfully she hit the right chord with the Gullah/Geechees along the Combahee River when she stood next to Colonel Montgomery as a soldier and helped to orchestrate the Combahee River Raid to free over 700 enslaved Gullah/Geechees from the rice fields along that river and get them to Beaufort, SC where the Union occupation was in place.  Harriet Tubman was a nurse and a scout for the Union and one could also add “recruiting officer” to her credits given the hundreds of Gullah/Geechees that joined the Union troops and got mustered into service at Port Royal because of encounters with her throughout what is now the Gullah/Geechee Nation.

When I first discovered a small amount of information noting that Harriet Tubman was in Beaufort, SC, I took it to the local historical society and asked for the address of her home and bakery and was actually asked “Who is Harriet Tubman?”   As a response to that, I marched in the history parade as her and then brought my play, “The Underground Railroad: A Geechee Girl’s Escape” to the town and to my home island of St. Helena to begin to shed light on our ancestors contribution to this major part of history and ourstory.  I wanted people to be well aware that even the greatest heroine amongst the freedom seekers of the 1800s was here in our area and she met with people such as Charlotte Forten while she was here.  I wanted to insure that if nobody else told it, I would make sure her story was told.

After a decade, I got an invitation to the name changing ceremony of the Combahee River Bridge to the Harriet Tubman Bridge on October 18, 2008.  I proudly stood with Pastor Kenneth Hodges to hold the photo of the aerial shot of the bridge at the conclusion of the ceremony.  Little did I know then that we would stand together with shovels in hand to break ground for the Harriet Tubman Monument at the site of the Tabernacle Baptist Church campus.  On Saturday, May 27, 2017, we lifted the soil at the location where a statue honoring Mother Moses and depicting her leading our people will be placed.  The public finally got to see the model of the sculpture that has been created by Ed Dwight when it got unveiled at this location on October 17, 2017.

Harriet Tubman Monument Model

I am now looking forward to being able to physically stand up next to Mother Moses Harriet Tubman since we have been standing and running together all my life.  I pray that the many others that have called her name, depicted her, written about her, and support her being on the United States $20 bill will send in the $20 bills and more to contribute to insuring that no one will ever again be in Beaufort County, SC without knowing about the existence and the legacy of Mother Moses Harriet Tubman.   Once they learn herstory at the base of the statue, I pray that they will join us in continuing to stand and fight for the global freedom and human rights of all people!

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

Queen Quet at the Harriet Tubman Monument Model Unveiling

Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) stands proudly next to the model for the Harriet Tubman Monument that will be placed at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. http://www.HarrietTubmanMonument.com

 

Tune in to the Gullah/Geechee TV coverage of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Harriet Tubman Monument:

 

www.HarrietTubmanMonument.com

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Harriet Tubman Monument Ground Breaking Ceremony in the Gullah/Geechee Nation

May 30, 2017

Harriet Tubman Ground Breaking Ceremony

Tune in to the Gullah/Geechee TV (GGTV) historic ground breaking ceremony for the Harriet Tubman Monument which will be placed at the Tabernacle Baptist Church campus in Beaufort, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation:

Please make sure to make your contribution here:

www.harriettubmanmonument.com

www.gullahgeecheenation.com

Honoring de Ooman Souljah een de Gullah/Geechee Nation fa Decoration Day

May 29, 2017

In honor of Memorial Day which is “Decoration Day” in the Gullah/Geechee Nation, Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation honors the legacy of Suzie King Taylor and Harriet Tubman who served at Camp Saxton in Port Royal on the island of Port Royal in South Carolina during the United States Civil War.

She addresses how Decoration Day began in Charleston, SC on May 1, 1865 as 10,000 Gullah/Geechees of which were 3000 children gathered at the site which is now Hampton Park to decorate the graves of Union soldiers.   On May 30, 1868, the celebration started to be done by soldiers for their fallen comrades at Arlington National Cemetary.  However, few people realize that this celebration was taking place for three years already and that as the commemoration grew, it became known as “Memorial Day.”

The fact that teachers and students were part of the initial Decoration Day would no doubt have warmed the heart of Suzie King Taylor who was an educator that had attended an illegal school for people of African descent as a child and grew up to run schools for her people even during the war.  Her story as the first Black nurse in the United States Army is rarely told just as the work of Harriet Tubman as a nurse and scout during the US Civil War is rarely told.  Queen Quet share these stories and how both will now be honored and memorialized in the Gullah/Geechee Nation on this edition of “Gullah/Geechee Riddim Radio.”  Tune een fa yeddi “Honoring de Ooman Souljah een de Gullah/Geechee Nation fa Decoration Day:” http://tobtr.com/s/10049725

www.gullahgeecheenation.com

Harriet Tubman Statue to be Erected in Beaufort County, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation

May 8, 2017
Many people are unaware of the fact that Harriet Tubman, who is most known for her outstanding work freeing enslaved people from bondage via the Underground Railroad, stayed in Beaufort, SC during her service as a soldier and scout.  She served during the United States Civil War and was stationed at Port Royal Island.   In order to enlighten more people in the world about her presence in Beaufort County, SC former South Carolina General Assembly member, Rev. Kenneth C. Hodges made sure that the bridge over the Combahee River was renamed in honor of Harriet Tubman and now there will also be a monument erected in Beaufort at the Tabernacle Baptist Church where he pastors to her honor.
Join the Beaufort Gullah/Geechee Famlee at the “Gullah Lowcountry Dinner Theater” on Friday, May 26, 2017 at 5:30 pm. This event will feature a presentation by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) entitled “Hallelujah Harriet: Mother Moses and de Gullah/Geechee.” The entire event is a fundraiser for the Harriet Tubman Monument which will be placed at Tabernacle Baptist Church Campus.  Advance tickets are on sale.   The ground breaking ceremony for the monument will take place on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 10 am and is free and open to the public.
Harriet Tubman Fundraiser Dinner
For more information about the event and how to contribute to the monument, go to www.harriettubmanmonument.com,
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gullah-lowcountry-dinner-theater-harriet-tubman-monument-fundraiser-tickets-34422790493.  You can also email GullGeeCo@aol.com or go by the new Gullah/Geechee Visitors Center at 1908 Boundary Street in Beaufort, SC.  Tickets are on sale at the Gullah/Geechee Visitors Center, Lybensons Gallery, and Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort, SC as well as at the aforementioned link.  
 
Bring the family to this monumental celebration!
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Tune in to the Gullah/Geechee TV (GGTV) coverage of the historic ground breaking ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KO5xJeqeLI

“Underground” Gullah/Geechee Journey

February 21, 2017

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.

Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and WGN Underground

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!

WGN Underground Season 1 Marathon

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!

Queen Quet of Gullah/Geechee and WGN Underground Cast

Queen Quet of Gullah/Geechee Consults for WGN's Underground

http://www.wgnamerica.com/series/underground

www.gullahgeecheenation.com