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Statue of Harriet Tubman a black Abolitionists helping slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. This is in Harlem New York. | by denisbin
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Statue of Harriet Tubman a black Abolitionists helping slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. This is in Harlem New York.

Harriet Tubman African American Museum.

Who was this woman who had no links to Macon but had the African American Museum named after her? Harriet Tubman was born in 1822 in Maryland into the Ross slave family. The Ross's relatively stable family life on Thompson's plantation came to abrupt end in 1824 when Tubman and some siblings were hired out to temporary masters. Whilst working as a field hand while a young teen, Tubman was nearly killed by a blow to her head from an iron weight, thrown by an angry overseer at another fleeing slave. The severe injury left her suffering from headaches for the rest of her life. About 1844 she married a local free black man named John Tubman. In the fall of 1849 Tubman took her own liberty. She tapped into the Underground Railroad: travelling by night and using the North Star and instructions from white and black helpers she found her way to Philadelphia. She sought work as a domestic, saving her money to help the rest of her family escape. From 1850 to 1860, Tubman conducted between 11 and 13 escape missions bringing away 300 slave people to freedom. Tubman took many of her charges to St. Catherine’s, Ontario, where they settled into a growing community of free blacks. Her dangerous missions won the admiration of black and white Abolitionists throughout the North. In 1859, William Henry Seward, Lincoln's future Secretary of State, sold Tubman a home on the outskirts of New York, where she eventually settled her aged parents and other family members. In early 1862, Tubman joined Northern Abolitionists in support of Union activities at Port Royal, South Carolina. Throughout the Civil War she provided badly needed nursing care to black soldiers and hundreds of newly liberated slaves who crowded Union camps. Tubman's military service expanded to include spying and scouting behind Confederate lines. In early June 1863, she became the first woman to command an armed military raid when she guided Col. James Montgomery and his 2nd South Carolina black regiment up the Combahee River, routing out Confederate outposts, destroying stockpiles of cotton, food and weapons, and liberating over 700 slaves. After the Civil War she remarried on her first husband’s death. She married Nelson Davis in 1869 a former soldier in the black Union forces. She struggled financially the rest of her life. Denied her own military pension, she eventually received a widow's pension as the wife of Nelson Davis, and later she was awarded a Civil War nurse's pension. Active in the women’s’ suffrage movement since 1860, Tubman continued to appear at local and national suffrage conventions until the early 1900s. She died at the age of 91 in 1913 in New York. What an amazing life from slave to runaway, to Underground Railroad leader to Union spy behind Confederate lines!

 

Life was difficult for former slaves in Macon but during the era of Jim Crow legislation designed to segregate all public and commercial facilities (schools, buses, hotels, restaurants, toilets, waiting rooms, railcars etc) the Georgia Baptist College was founded in 1899 by the Reverend E.K. Love under the auspices of the Baptist Church. It was the only institution for high school or college study for black Americans in Macon. The College struggled to survive financially, finally failing during the Great Depression in 1937. The college property was foreclosed by a white businessman who had lent money to the college. But he was also a philanthropist and he placed the College’s assets under the control of the Georgia Baptist Missionary Convention. During the era of segregation it was difficult to continue raising funds only from the impoverished black community and the college was closed in 1957 just as the era of desegregation was about to begin in the South.

 

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Taken on July 21, 2012