I know I don’t have to remind those of you who read my articles on a regular basis, that I am an avid movie and TV viewer, but I will continue to do so for those who may not know that important aspect about my life just yet.
There is a hot new TV show, which has become increasingly more popular since it debuted in March of last year. The show, which airs on WGN America, is called “Underground” and it follows a group of slaves who plan a daring escape from a Georgia plantation to cross 600 miles to freedom, with one of my historical (s)heroes blazing the trail – Harriet Tubman.
“Underground” tells the story of American heroes, like Tubman, and their harrowing journey to freedom, while the country was on the brink of Civil War, and while they were struggling to obtain freedom during some extremely dangerous times.
If you crack open any major history book, you should be able to find information on Tubman, who is perhaps the most well-known of all the “conductors” of the “Underground” Railroad in American history.
As the original “Underground” Railroad chief “conductor,” Tubman was directly responsible for making roughly 19 trips into the South and escorting over 300 slaves to freedom in a ten-year span. Not only was she the original chief “conductor” of the “Underground” Railroad, Tubman also trained other “conductors” to show them how the “Underground” Railroad truly worked.
Tubman developed a variety of tactics to avoid detection, and despite the best efforts of the bounty hunters and slave masters, she was never captured, and neither were the fugitives she helped escape. Tubman was an outstanding trailblazer and was a “conductor” who had an impeccable record of success. She had a commitment to service that was second to none.
Years after her last “Underground” Railroad expedition, she told an audience: “I was conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say – I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”
Tubman is not only an American patriot, and major historical (s)hero, she is also a primary example of what it looks like to lay it all on the line, and to risk your life to empower Black people by giving them a blueprint to attain freedom by any means necessary. It was because of the bravery, vision and love she had for her people – Black people – that Tubman was able to exemplify the type of bold leadership that’s needed now in this country.
Listen…there is a modern day “Underground” Railroad out here and new “conductors” are desperately needed to help us escape the mental, spiritual, financial and physical bondage we are in. It won’t happen overnight though. It will only happen if people step up to the plate, however.
If we look at things today, we see that the boldness and vision of Tubman, along with the blueprint for freedom she created, has unfortunately been “archived” by many of the people she intended to pass it on to in the Black community. That same blueprint – has however – been picked up by many other groups in this country, who have made a commitment to use that blueprint to fight inequities and injustices, as well as free themselves from the shackels that serve as a hindrance to their overall progress.
Like Tubman, there are many “conductors” today who were successfully able to escape the bondage areas in their lives. Many have returned to the place where they were delivered from in order to help other Black people escape the bondages they are in, so they can experience the same freedom they have been able to enjoy in so many critical areas, whether it be economically, politically, socially, educationally, etc.
On the flip side, there are also many Black people, who have either refused to leave the plantation, or who have escaped and refuse to take on the mantle as a “conductor” by going back to help others get free. Some have achieved different levels of success, yet have been unwilling to return to the places they escaped from, in order to not only show others how to escape, but to help teach them how to escape and never return to the same bondage.
You know, like I know, that Tubman could have remained a slave for her entire life, but it wasn’t in her DNA. Truth be told – the safest thing Tubman could have done was remain a slave, but that is the mentality of a defeated, scared and selfish individual. Tubman was clearly not focused on herself. She wanted to share the freshness of the freedom she had experienced with her fellow Black people, versus allowing them to remain in the bondage they didn’t enjoy or deserve.
Tubman didn’t give Black people a handout or the ability to make excuses. On the contrary, she showed Black people how to become a free Black man and a free Black woman. She gave her people the option to escape or to remain in bondage – at the end of the day though, it was their choice.
Today in America, there is a modern day “Underground” Railroad that still exists, and there are many people, particularly many of our Black youth, who are choosing to step up and take the role as the next chief “conductor” – unafraid to help address the issues plaguing the Black community. In looking at the state of Black America, many of the archaic and ineffective strategies that Black people have employed since desegregation, have not worked and they need to be permanately shelved.
If we, as Black people, hope to remain a relevant group in the United States for years to come, we had better get engaged and involved in every critical aspect of our daily lives, so we don’t get left behind – and worst – become extinct.
It is one thing to read about Harriet Tubman in the history books, but it’s a completely different thing to actually live the life that she lived, and follow the example that she set.
I truly believe that if Harriet Tubman were alive today, she would not be sitting on the sideline waiting for someone else to take the lead. I believe she would proactively be at the forefront seeking to address the systemic issues impacting the Black community, and would probably take an ad out in media outlets across the country, like the Forwad Times, which would read:
ATTENTION: “UNDERGROUND” CONDUCTORS WANTED
*ONLY SERIOUS APPLICANTS NEED APPLY
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org