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What was the most interesting fact about Harriet Tubman that you learned in your research?
Harriet Tubman was a mighty woman — Black, strong, and beautiful. There were two interesting facts I learned about Harriet during my research. Even though Harriet was one of the bravest conductors along the Underground Railroad, she was only about 5-feet tall, the same height as me. I also learned that later in her life when Harriet had surgery on her head, she refused anesthesia to dull the pain, but instead, chewed on a bullet to numb the ache. This was a remedy Harriet learned as a nurse during the Civil War. When soldiers had a limb amputated, they bit down on bullets to keep the pain away.
What is the biggest lesson you hope young readers take away from the book?
Harriet Tubman made her first escape when she was a child. As a young girl, she took a bold step toward equality. I hope readers will learn that no matter how old you are, your actions can make the world a better place.
How did you do the research for this biography?
There are many amazing books about Harriet Tubman. Two that helped bring my story alive were books written from Harriet’s own voice. Harriet never learned to read or write, but her mind and memory were sharper than a batch of new pencils. With the help of a woman named Sarah Bradford, Harriet authored her own books. Sarah wrote Harriet’s life-stories based on their many conversations, and their friendship. The books were published in 1869 and 1886. They’re entitled Harriet, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman and Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People. Harriet’s books became very popular, and are still read today.
What question would you ask Harriet Tubman if you had the chance to meet her?
If I had the chance to meet Harriet Tubman, I would ask her a question that’s been on my mind for quite some time: “Harriet, did you ever feel like giving up?” My guess is that Harriet would answer by saying: “We all feel weak at times, but when the heart is heavy and the soul feels low, we keep on.”
What does the Persisterhood mean to you?
My sister, Lynne, is a very accomplished and courageous woman. As part of the Persisterhood, I now have twelve new sisters, who inspire all of us to stay strong, speak up, and help the next sister who comes along!”