By Bonnie DeShong
“God’s time is always near. He set the North Star in the heavens; He gave me the strength in my limbs; He meant I should be free.” – Harriet Tubman
The story of Harriet Tubman was one, growing up in central Illinois that went something like this. Harriet Tubman was a slave who led people to freedom. In college in the 70s we learned of her strength and determination to lead enslaved people north to freedom. That was her mission and she left no one behind. I’m not sure what our youth are learning about her today but if we make sure every one of them sees the movie “HARRIET,” they will get a strong idea of who this amazing woman of GOD was.
“I grew up like a neglected weed – ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it.” – Harriet Tubman
The film “HARRIET” was co-written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, whose work I have loved and respected since “Eve’s Bayou.” I believe that it was important that this film was directed by a woman of color. We are introduced to Harriet Tubman’s soul and we get lost in her courage. The cast chosen is a strong one and had to be, to bring this to life.
Cynthia Erivo portrays Minty, the enslaved woman who changes her name to Harriet Tubman once she is free. She embodies Harriet and plays the many levels of this courageous woman. When she goes back south to get other enslaved people she sings “Go Down Moses” and chills went through me. Sitting in that theater, eating my popcorn, I stopped to wonder how many of my ancestors may have heard her voice and did they follow her to freedom.
There are many performances that stand out. Janelle Monáe plays Marie Buchanon, the woman who ran a boarding house for slaves who made their way north. She too is a woman of strength and courage. She was born free but puts her life on the line to help others.
Leslie Odom Jr. plays William Still, the chairman of the Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society with excitement and dedication.
At the end, Kasi chose to show the famous photograph of Harriet Tubman sitting on a chair, and list her accomplishments. There are so many that I didn’t know. Tears began to roll down my cheeks because of the pride in my heart.
“HARRIET” is a film to take your upper age children to see. I would say age eight on up. It should spark conversation and will become a positive teachable moment.
Someone asked me if it will make them mad to watch this film. I have never been ashamed of my past or what my ancestors endured to make sure I can be here today. To realize that this woman without education of any kind could lead hundreds of people to freedom and not lose one, was a spy during the civil war, and she was also the first woman in American history to lead a military expedition is mind boggling.
Make you mad, no, it should make you proud.
I give HARRIET 3 EYES out of 4
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”- Harriet Tubman
Until next time keep your EYE to the sky!!!