November 3, 2019
Historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar interviewed by The Guardian about her new biography of Harriet TubmanHistorians in the News
tags: Harriet Tubman, Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Harriet Tubman is one of the best-known women in US history, but most people know little of her life beyond what they learned in a history textbook.
Now, however, she is firmly in the spotlight. Her first biopic was released in US theaters on Friday and on Tuesday comes a new biography that considers her life beyond her famous work leading enslaved people to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
“What we think we know about Tubman really only consists of a decade of her life,” said Erica Armstrong Dunbar, author of the new biography She Came to Slay.
Among 200-year-old facts that will be new to many is that Tubman was the first woman in US history to plan and lead an armed expedition, liberating nearly 750 enslaved men and women in the process. She also fought for decades to gain compensation for her work as a spy, scout and nurse during the civil war and was an advocate for both women’s suffrage and proper care of the elderly.
“Tubman did not just become Tubman overnight,” said Dunbar, the Charles and Mary Beard professor of history at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
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