October 20, 2018

Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist and humanitarian most well-known for her role as a conductor in the Underground Railroad. She was also a women’s suffragist, civil rights activist, nurse, spy and soldier. To this day, Tubman is one of only a few women in US history to have led an armed expedition.

You may wonder… why profile Tubman now? Two reasons – first, a biopic feature-length documentary on Tubman is currently being filmed in my backyard of Central Virginia. Second, she’s exactly the kind of leader we need today.

Harriet, the film

The team of producers and directors felt it was a long overdue time to share her inspiring story.

“While Harriet Tubman is a household name, most people don’t know the breadth of her story.”
~ producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg

Documentaries have a way of telling the backstory, the facts and details behind the information in history books and news articles. These are important pieces of the whole story, and they are the deeper truths that need to be seen and heard for today’s citizens to understand the complete picture. And, films convey emotions that allow viewers to have a relational and empathetic understanding of experiences beyond our own.

Harriet, the leader

Tubman was brave beyond comprehension, and fearlessly true to what she knew to be right. She was the kind of leader our world often only sees when the stakes are highest, causing those who seem powerless to step into the breach when those in power don’t. Tubman, and others like her, are not the leaders that wait for the tipping point of popular support. They are the rogue leaders that see an injustice and a job to be done, and risk their lives for what they know to be right and moral. They do not fret over agreeability, promotability, popularity, or electability, and their notion of self-preservation does not hold them back. In fact, they see their just actions as a part of their self-preservation – they could not live with any other choice.

What a perfect time for this documentary. Could we all – those in power and those who are not (yet) –  manifest a bit of our inner Harriet Tubman?