By MIKE ALEWITZ
“I FREED THOUSANDS OF SLAVES and could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.” — Harriet Tubman
Lumberjack / Nurse / Underground Railroad Conductor / Suffragist / Abolitionist / Armed Insurrectionist. Dec. 6, 1849 — Harriet Tubman escapes from her New York owners.
When I was commissioned to create a series of murals for the new millennium, I chose Harriet Tubman, and the struggle for reparations from slavery, as my subject. Harriet is now being sanitized so that she can be on a US $20 bill.
From a widely-covered statement issued in response to calls to remove a rifle from the mural, THE DREAMS OF HARRIET TUBMAN, by Mike Alewitz, June 14, 2000:
I WILL NOT DISARM HARRIET TUBMAN
“Harriet Tubman was a fierce opponent of slavery in all its forms. She was opposed by the Southern slave-master and Northern industrialist alike. She was an organizer, educator, leader of the abolitionist movement, feminist, conductor on the underground railroad, and armed insurrectionist against slavery. Then, as now, Harriet was feared not because she carried a gun, but because she organized a mass, militant and uncompromising struggle for social justice.
“There are those who would like to transform Harriet Tubman into a safe and acceptable icon for corporate America. They wish to disarm her both physically and politically. I will not help them. I will not disarm Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman belongs to working people throughout the world. Harriet Tubman’s life, the war to end slavery, and the continuation of that struggle today deserve to be portrayed in murals, poems, and songs by many artists.”
Image: “GENERAL HARRIET TUBMAN” (So named by John Brown, in honor of her militancy and command of action). Detail from the mural: “THE DREAMS OF HARRIET TUBMAN — EDUCATION FOR ALL.” From a Series of Murals by Mike Alewitz / Maryland / 2000. This piece, in Joppa, Md., was attacked and vandalized by Nazis, but repaired and defended by a community coalition.
Harriet Tubman – Armed & Dangerous: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1qFQMuNfGQTq8n0XPHomhPDkxHC3BZ0DdoPS33ixHK3E