Harriet Tubman's Struggle For Freedom Comes Alive For High School Kids
A Brooklyn high school in remembered on Thursday Harriet Tubman, the woman who bravely led hundreds of men, women and children from slavery to freedom in the 1800s, on the 98th anniversary of her death. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
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In her portrayal of Harriet Tubman, actress Gloria Lowery Tyrell used some rap, as part of a celebration of the activist's life at Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
"Harriet Tubman didn't take no stuff, wasn't scared of nothing neither," said Tyrell.
The performance, which combined song, dance and positive messages for the young people on hand, was hosted and sponsored by Brooklyn Councilman Albert Vann.
"To lift her up, to honor her, is to inspire a generation of people to do their best," said Vann.
A photograph of Harriet Tubman.
Hundreds of school children were on hand to hear that message. Tubman escaped slavery in Maryland in 1849, when she was in her late 20s. But she returned south 19 times to help free some 300 other slaves using the Underground Railroad, a secret network of safe houses where they could stay as they traveled north to freedom.
Tubman died on March 10, 1913, but 98 years after her passing, Boys and Girls High School officials said her example is still relevant.
"I hope they recognize that freedom comes at a cost. There's a cost to freedom, and it's hard work," says Bernard Gassaway, the school's principal. "And because of Harriet Tubman and the sacrifice that she made, they're in school today receiving a free public education."
The kids also heard from keynote speaker Laurie Cumbo, the founder and executive director of Brooklyn's Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts.
"I really want young people to feel if you just help one person, if you just make your block better, if you just make your community better, if you just make Brooklyn better, I mean, that's significant," said Cumbo.
Some students who attended the program said they already knew who Harriet Tubman was, but they knew even more now.
"I learned that Harriet Tubman went through a lot of stuff just to do for us in the future, and she believed that we can make a difference in the world, which I like," said one student.
"Harriet Tubman risked her life to help us," said another.
"She was amazing, she helped a lot of people," said a third.
So one of the Underground Railroad's greatest leaders has inspired the road ahead for these young Brooklyn students.