Gwen Webber McLeod and Harriet Tubman

A Tribute to Harriet Tubman on her 200th Birthday

Hi! I’m Gwen Webber-McLeod. I’m so proud to say that I am Harriet Tubman’s legacy in action. Wonder why? Because I make a point of spending every day of my life doing things that would make her proud.

I am a social justice activist. I am a believer in the rights of women. I believe it is important to take care of elderly black people. I believe that America is a country that belongs to all of us and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone has that opportunity.

There was this one moment when I realized that I was historically obligated to be Harriet Tubman’s legacy in action. If you look over my shoulder, you’ll see a picture of me standing in front of her home. I was there to be part of an interview during Black History Month in Auburn, New York. As I stood there and saw her picture, it occurred to me that if we don’t live out her legacy in our daily lives, she could be so easily be forgotten. I refuse to be part of that. So, as I think about her past, I look to it every single time I feel discouraged or afraid and I remember this tiny woman who had the audacity to walk from Maryland, through many places, eventually to Auburn, New York to save her people.

When I look at her present impact, I literally live geographically between where she lived and where she is currently buried. And on those days when I feel like I just can’t do it anymore, I remind myself that her spirit is all around me. If not me, then who? If not now, then when? 

And when I look to the future, I again lean into my historical obligation to use all of the values and attributes of Harriet Tubman that show up in my life everyday to inspire new generations of young women, with a particular heart for young black women, to remind them of something that we say in my business all the time: Sisters you can’t fail because you stand on a history that shows you that you can’t. And Harriet Tubman is that history.

So, today as we celebrate her 200th birthday, I want to say, “Thank you, Harriet Tubman! And Happy Birthday!”

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