We need a federal holiday in honor of Harriet Tubman – Low Calorie Diets Tips

On March 10th at Philadelphia City Hall, I spoke with Congressman Brendan Boyle and Mayor Jim Kenney for Philadelphia’s celebration of the life of Harriet Tubman: beloved abolitionist, conductor of the Underground Railroad, entrepreneur and my personal leader.

Ironically, all the walls of the City Hall chamber where I spoke were adorned with portraits of historical figures worthy of the high honor of recognition – none of whom looked like me or Harriet Tubman.

The gathering at City Hall was the culmination of two months of citywide celebrations of Tubman’s life and legacy, coinciding with a traveling statue created by Wesley Wofford that made its way from state to state. The event was conceived by the Philadelphia Bureau of Arts, Culture and Creative Industries to promote a permanent statue to Harriet soon to be erected in our city.

Understandably, the packed hall of Philadelphians was enthralled by the Wofford statue. People clapped and took photos, and at the end there was a cupcake reception as people commemorated the 200th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s birthday.

(I was dressed all in black and came to the event with a veil. Although we will never know Harriet Tubman’s date of birth because she was born in a country she considered less than human, we do know for sure that the 10th of March 1913 is the day she died.)

Just a few days before, I had was moved to tears and had to stop in my car to scream out loud. I was just told by the mayor and the congressman’s respective teams that I would not be given time to speak at this event. Instead, two well-meaning politicians would stand in front of the room.

I couldn’t process my generation-long anger at the gesture without seeking support from fellow “Harriets” — my network of modern-day abolitionists who also see Tubman as a spiritual mentor. After my near-breakdown, my sister contacted Congressman Boyle’s office and asked her to consider how problematic it would be if two politicians stood in front of a crowd of Harriets to announce that the Harriet Tubman Day Act (HR 7013) in the Congress had been introduced. Meanwhile, the woman who had helped organize the effort on the ground, the woman who had brought the idea to the congressman in the first place, would not be on the mic.

Representatives for the mayor and congressman later apologized for the oversight. I accepted her sincere regrets and decided it would be best to complete the mission the way Harriet would. Congressman Boyle introduced me and gave me time to speak.

It wasn’t important to me because I like standing in front of crowds – to be clear, I don’t. It was important because I feared that people would gather to pay homage to Tubman’s legacy while glossing over the purpose of their work — that people would not seriously embrace the idea of ​​creating a holy day dedicated to the Mourning over the atrocities of slavery is provided. A Tubman holiday is a moment to discuss repairing the harm of slavery, not a time to celebrate with cupcakes, peeling and jiving, high-fiving, re-enactments and song. What if we reserved the celebrations for an actual policy change, rather than another symbolic victory? After an actual win, why not wait to build a statue? After a measurable change occurs? For example, after a drastic drop in homicides in the city, a drop in poverty or homelessness in the city? Even after the Harriet Tubman Day Act was approved.

About 1.8 million of my ancestors died during the middle passage from Africa to America. Thousands of my ancestors were approached and then taken in chains to Philadelphia’s ports to be sold into slavery. Thousands more died toiling the soil that brought the cotton and sugar industries to this city. Not to mention the 40,000 who died during the Civil War, or the 6,500 who were lynched after the so-called Emancipation. And no number is available that explains lives traumatized by the hate and harm of slavery for generations. A statue alone does not do it.

My great-great-grandmother’s grandmother, Lula Styles, passed down stories about how she was made to eat out of a pig trough. My great-great-grandfather, Washington Reese, remembered coming to this country in a boat in chains, but people think we need another day for cupcakes, another day for picnics and fireworks, or worse yet, another opportunity for Americans Venture out and become a commodity a date where people can buy cheaply made t-shirts and scarves with cool slogans created by modern-day slaves.

Tubman’s legacy — her repeated trips south to rescue enslaved people, her time on the Combohee River, her work as a spy and scout for the Union Army, and the lesser-known battle she had with the US government over a pension for her never received for a war that this country might not have won without them – is worth celebrating.

I had three minutes at the event to speak my speech. I shared that some people become holy. Harriet Tubman Day should not and will not be another day of pretending everything is fine. We have enough days for that. It’s not just a day off from work. We have enough days for that. What we don’t have in this country, in this world, is a day to mourn the impact of the particular type of slavery that has happened on this nation’s soil and implement solutions for how to deal with it. We have no day together to make due reparation for the continued atrocities being inflicted on my ancestors and their descendants.

All is not well, so we must mourn. Grief is a healthy response to loss that, when done well, eventually leads to acceptance. The lack of looking back – sitting on fire, as some people say – has caused decades of denial, anger and racial tension. This type of anger turns into riots and riots if left unaddressed.

» READ MORE: Can I get an amen for Philly’s decision to commission a permanent Harriet Tubman statue? | Jenice Armstrong

We need a collective mourning ritual to honor the losses our community and its members have suffered. Harriet Tubman Day is just the beginning of a ritual that must be designed and led by the communities most affected by the specific harms of slavery. All others can join us in respecting and grieving the deep sadness that comes from benefiting from another’s enslavement.

Now that the Harriet Tubman Day Act has been introduced in Congress, a lot of people are asking me, when is the vote? Unfortunately, that’s a question I can’t answer. But I think the question raises a big point. How is it that some bills are tossed around Congress for years while others are passed overnight? How is it that some laws move quickly and others so slowly? Is it legal oppression? Legal Neglect? For example, lynching was classified as a federal hate crime earlier this year – some 130 years after Ida B. Wells (another of our pioneering ancestors) launched a campaign to that effect.

We cannot wait another 130 years to start this process. We ask those who can to write to their congressman to let them know you support HR 7013 for Harriet Tubman Day and remember to add the measurable request – we want this legislation to be in place by or before May 10 March 2023. Send us a photo of your letter to info@harriettsbookshop.com for publication in an upcoming book.

Jeannine A. Cook is a store owner at Harriett’s books in Philadelphia and Ida’s books at Collingwood. She is writing a memoir. For the purposes of this comment and to conform to Inquirer style, a T is used. When naming her bookstore in honor of Tubman and her mother, who were illiterate and never wrote their names, Cook uses two Ts.

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