Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom | Teen Ink

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom

May 15, 2023
By jadateenink BRONZE, Hartland, Wisconsin
jadateenink BRONZE, Hartland, Wisconsin
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

We’ve all heard the story of Harriet Tubman, the runaway slave who made the courageous journey along the Underground Railroad to free not only herself, but hundreds of other enslaved people.  I remember being taught about her in elementary school, but upon seeing this book, I realized I knew very little about her—which prompted me to start reading.  

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom is an informative and inspiring biography about the abolitionist, civil rights activist, and hero that we know as Harriet Tubman.  For such a celebrity of her time and the historical figure that she is now, there is surprisingly little recorded information about Harriet Tubman, especially in her early life.  Being born into slavery, it’s not unexpected that she would have no birth records or any recorded history about where she lived.  There are many disparities in the accounts of Tubman’s life, so it may be impossible to know for sure what actually happened, however, Katherine Clinton is able to use small accounts from witnesses, interviews, and other contextual information to paint her story and the many possibilities of her experiences and her motives for becoming the fearless woman she was.  

Throughout this book, you learn many interesting facts and details about Harriet Tubman that likely wasn’t taught to you in school.  For example, her name was not in fact Harriet Tubman.  Her parents named her Araminta when she was born, and she was sometimes called “Minty” as a nickname.  When she escaped to the North for the first time, she took the name Harriet (after her mother and grandmother) to avoid being caught by slave hunters.  The name Tubman comes from her husband John Tubman, a free man whom she married in 1844.  When he did not share her desire to move to the North, she was forced with the decision to leave him in order to pursue her own freedom, but she decided to keep his name. 

From her early childhood, to helping free slaves, to her contributions to the Civil War against the Confederacy, and her fight for racial justice after the war, we are able to see the brilliance of Harriet Tubman and the significance of her role in the fight for freedom and equality.  

Beyond the narration of Tubman’s life, Clinton also is able to provide information and reference other prominent figures of the time such as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth and gives historical context of American slavery and the Civil war.  She provides appropriate contexts that inform readers about the cultures of both black and white Americans. 

As someone who enjoys nonfiction, this book is an excellent read, and I would recommend for everyone that looks to better understand the uglier parts of American history and the incredible people who embody the idea of Americanism in fighting for their freedom and rights. 

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