Harriet Tubman was still a slave when she married her husband John Tubman, “a free” man, in 1844. She fled a plantation in Maryland and escaped to Philadelphia via the Underground in 1849. It was a grueling 90 mile journey. Harriet said she felt like she was “in Heaven” when she entered Pennsylvania. Despite this feeling, she returned South many times to rescue other slaves from bondage. Harriet met John Brown in 1958. When he started recruiting people for the attack on Harper’s Ferry he consulted her. After Brown was killed she hailed him as a martyr.
Leroy W. Homer, Jr. was a 36-year-old first officer of United Airlines. He was also the co-pilot on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 when terrorists hijacked this plane that later crashed in a field outside of Shanksville, PA. The movie “United 93” recreates this tragedy and compounds it by portraying Homer as a white man when in fact Homer was a Black man married to a Black woman and the father of a young girl.
In 1968 Shirley Chisholm became the first Black U.S. Congresswoman. She represented New York State for seven terms and in 1972 she made a bid for the US presidency. She survived three assassination attempts while campaigning. Shirley was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a longtime champion of educational opportunities for inner-city children. In 1972 she visited her rival George Wallace in the hospital after he was shot while campaigning for U. S. president. Years later when she worked on a domestic worker minimum wage bill, Wallace helped to get enough votes from Southern congressman to push the bill through the House.
Harry Belafonte, actor/singer/producer/longtime human rights activist was awarded an NAACP Image Award last month. In the 1980s he came up with the idea of bringing celebrities together to sing a song to raise funds for famine relief in Africa. “We Are The World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie, was born and became an international hit that raised more than $20 million for famine relief. Harry’s activism included serving as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, speaking out against apartheid in South Africa and against U.S. military intervention in Iraq, etc.