Monday, February 17, 2014

The Weekly MUSE: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)

February is African American History Month, so before this month flies by, I want to share with you one of America’s greatest treasures: Harriet Tubman.

All aboard, Creative Writers! We’ve found our MUSE – this time on the Underground Railroad. Choo-choooo!

As you already know, the United States of America has a very sad history with slavery. At one time, White Americans were allowed to own Black Americans like they could a horse or a mule. There was so much wrong with system, and eventually a war would be fought because of it – the American Civil War.

Levi Coffin (1798-1877)

But before slavery was ended, there were many white and black Americans that fought tirelessly to free the slaves. These people were called abolitionists. One of the most famous abolitionists is from right here in Indiana, Levi Coffin. In fact, he was called the President of the Underground Railroad.

The Levi Coffin House - A "station" on the Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was not a railway for trains or locomotives, and it was also NOT under the ground. Instead, it was a series of secret paths and stations (homes and farms) that escaped slaves used to find their way North to FREEDOM!

Leaders or guides for the Underground Railroad were called conductors. To be a conductor, you must be smart, quick-thinking and BRAVE. White and black people both served as conductors, but one woman stands out beyond the rest. Her name was Harriet Tubman.

Today African American people still refer to her as the Moses of their People. (In many religious texts, Moses is given credit for freeing the Hebrew people from slavery by the Egyptians).

Below is a short video biography of Harriet Tubman. Take a look.

To me, Harriet Tubman was brave on two accounts. Not only was she able to free herself from slavery, but she made several more trips into “slave country” knowing that HUGE bounties were on her head. This did not stop here. She could not be free herself while knowing that so many others suffered under the hands of bondage.

Harriet Tubman is a woman I wish I could have met. She is one of the greatest SHE-roes of all time.

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these what if questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your main character was a kid on one of Harriet Tubman's escapes to Freedom?

WHAT IF your main character took a field trip to the cemetery where Harriet Tubman is buried? Does something interesting or strange happen? 

WHAT IF you could write a letter to Harriet Tubman, and she was able to read it? What would you say?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

No comments:

Post a Comment