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Unit Four. Week Five, 6/27. 400 Souls: Reflecting on a Community History of African America.

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Teach Out Gathering Time

Sunday, June 27. 5:00-7:00pm PST

Meeting ID: 984 4028 7294

400 souls: reflecting on a community history of african america

week five


we convene in honor of Harriet Tubman

often called “the Moses of Her People,” escaped slave Harriet Tubman assisted hundreds of slaves on what is now known as the Underground Railroad, leading them from Maryland to safety in Pennsylvania. born enslaved in 1821 and raised in Dorchester County, Maryland to Benjamin and Harriett Greene Ross, she was both a field hand and a domestic servant. as a young girl, she suffered a lifelong injury after her master threw a piece of iron at her, which struck her in the head. throughout her life, she suffered bouts of narcoleptic seizures. in 1844, she married a free black man, John Tubman. she escaped in 1849 in order to avoid being sold into the Deep South. her husband refused to go with her. several months later, when she returned to him, she learned he had taken another wife. he died shortly after the end of the Civil War, and Tubman later married Nelson Davis.

upon her escape, Tubman traveled northward to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where, like most working class free Black women, she found employment as a washer woman and domestic servant. at the same time, she participated in the Underground Railroad, and as a result, developed networks with both Black and white abolitionists.

during the Civil War, Tubman served as a spy for the Union Army. on June 2, 1863, however, Tubman, under the command of Union Colonel James Montgomery, led 150 Black Union soldiers in the Combahee River Raid in South Carolina. this was the only Civil War military engagement where a woman was the commander. Tubman, who was already aware of vital information about the location of Confederate torpedoes planted along the river, led Union gunboats to specific areas where fugitive slaves were hiding and waiting to be rescued. eventually 750 people were liberated from slavery. some of the men eventually joined the First South Carolina Volunteers, the military regiment established for former slaves in coastal South Carolina in 1862. the Combahee River Raid was a major blow to the Confederate cause.

after the end of the Civil War, Tubman settled in Washington, D.C. and participated in the emerging national suffrage movement. in 1911, two years before she died, she attended a meeting of the suffrage club in Geneva, New York, where a white woman asked her: “Do you really believe that women should vote?” Tubman reportedly replied, “I suffered enough to believe it.” Harriet Ross Tubman died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913 in Auburn, New York. she was believed to be 92 at the time of her death.

we dedicate this week's gathering and study in The Teach Out to Harriet Tubman's life and work. may she rest in power.

*much of the above biography credited to Shirley Yee of Black Past.


our week five reading

four hundred souls: part five

pg. 149-184


our weekly provocations

1. Discussion questions for Four Hundred Souls, Part Five (below)

2. Interview with Ibram X. Kendi & Keisha N. Blain about Four Hundred Souls, CNN's Amanpour and Co., February 2021 (18:21)



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