Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who became a leading abolitionist.  She led hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Notes to Women salute this brave woman who suffered hardship and physical violence. When she crossed into the free state of Pennsylvania, she was overwhelmed with relief and awe.  Of this experience, she said, “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person.  There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”

This taste of freedom was something that she wanted others to experience.   So, instead of staying there in the North where it was safe, she made it her mission to rescue her family and others who were still living in slavery.  She earned the nickname “Moses” for leading others to freedom.

Harriet made history as the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, guiding the Combahee River Raid which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.   She was named one of the most famous civilians in American History before the Civil War, third only to Betsy Ross and Paul Revere. Today, she continues to be an inspiration to generations of Americans who are still struggling for civil rights.

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.

I would fight for my liberty so long as my strength lasted, and if the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.

I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.

I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.

I grew up like a neglected weed – ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it.

I said to de Lord, ‘I’m goin’ to hold steady on to you, an’ I know you’ll see me through.’

Twasn’t me, ’twas the Lord! I always told Him, ‘I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect You to lead me,’ an’ He always did.

 

Sources:  Biography; Brainy Quote

Three Great Women

I always wondered about the women in Thurgood Marshall’s life–his mother and his wife.  I decided to browse the Internet to see what information I could find.

Thurgood’s mother, Norma Arica was a public school teacher for over 25 years.  When her son attended Howard University Law School she pawned her wedding and engagement rings to pay his tuition (Michael Lariens).  I found this interesting because I read on another site that Norma wanted her son to become a dentist.  However, when she saw how well her son did in court, she was glad he became a lawyer

During Thurgood’s childhood, Norma and her husband  taught him how to argue, by making him prove every statement he made, and by challenging every point he made, unintentionally instilling in him the characteristics he needed in order to be an effective lawyer (Mccsc.edu).

Norma along with her husband and Thurgood’s grandparents encouraged him to adjust to segregation, rather than fight it. “I was taught to go along with it, not fight it unless you could win!”  Thurgood later became  the first African American to serve on the highest court in the country, and held that post until his retirement 24 years later in 1991.  He acknowledged that, “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots” (http://www.thurgoodmarshallms.mnps.org/Page39045.aspx).

Thurgood was married twice.  I didn’t know that.  His first wife, Vivian Burey was a student from the University of Pennsylvania.  She helped Thurgood to make the decision to attend law school.  Viven died of lung cancer on February 11, 1955.  Thurgood remarried.  His second wife Cecilia Suyat was a Hawaiian.  

As for her early life, Cecilia Suyat Marshall said that both her parents were born in the Philippines while she was born and raised in Hawaii.  She described her life in Hawaii as one without prejudice where all types of people integrated well.   Her father had his own printing company.  Her mother died when she was young and having many siblings, she felt she should go and take care of herself.

Her father encouraged her to go to New York where she found work at the the NAACP.  Her first job there was to picket the movie theater where “Birth of a Nation” was being shown.  She said it did stop showing shortly after their protest.   She worked her way up from stenography pool to the private secretary of the head of the NAACP organization, Dr. Gloster B. Current from 1948-55.  This was an important position due to the fact that he was head of 1,500 NAACP groups throughout the USA.

In December 1955 she met Thurgood Marshall who was then the chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Cecilia was described as a a warm, nurturing and proud mother to Thurgood’s two sons.  She was proud of her husband’s accomplishments, especially his victory in the Brown vs Board of Education case because it also succeeded in ending segregation in restaurants and hotels.

Cecilia believed in the importance of preserving “our history not for our generation but for the younger generation… to keep reminding them and telling them the history of where we came from…it was not very easy”((http://fairfaxasianamericans.community.officelive.com/EssayCivilRightsMarshallCeciliaSuyat.aspx).   ((http://fairfaxasianamericans.community.officelive.com/EssayCivilRightsMarshallCeciliaSuyat.aspx).

You know the old adage:  Behind every great man there stands a great woman.  In Thurgood Marshall’s case there were three.  The love, support and devotion of these remarkable women helped him along his journey to the Supreme Court.

Thurgood Marshall Before His Swearing in at the Supreme Court

Cecilia with Thurgood

 

 

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