Magazine article Ebony

Food for Thought

Magazine article Ebony

Food for Thought

Article excerpt

AN African proverb states: "Whose mother is at the pot will not lack soup?" Certainly, the Herstory of Black Women in America can attest to that proverb. From slavery to yesterday, women working in White kitchens fed not only themselves but also their families, but also whole communities. It was the slave mothers, packing bits of food in scraps of fabric, who fueled the long walk North to freedom for many of our ancestors. And it was on March 10, 1913, that Harriet Tubman, the formidable Black Moses, a major conductor on the Underground Railroad, died in her Auburn, N.Y., home. And while she was not a mother in the biological sense, she, and other pivotal women in Black History, like the great Rosa Parks (who ironically was born February 4, 1913, one month before Tubman's death), have been called the mothers of our people. They are among the women who changed America.

March is Women's History Month and the 2005 theme is "Women Change America." For Black women and Black people, few stars shine brighter in HERstory than Tubman. Nearly 45 years before her death, the great abolitionist statesman Frederick Douglass honored Tubman with a tribute worthy of her eulogy. "The difference between us is very marked," he wrote her. "Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day--you the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scared, and foot-sore bondsmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage and whose heartfelt "God Bless You" have been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witness of your devotion to freedom. …

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