Like Harriet Tubman
What Harriet Tubman did for a living is a lesson for us all
“Sometimes I get so tired, then I remember what Harriet Tubman did for a living.”
This sits on my desk. I don’t know who created it, but when I saw it – it spoke to my entire soul. I use it as a reminder to keep pushing – no matter the challenge.
As one of the most famous Underground Railroad conductors, abolitionist and civil rights activist in history, Tubman was a warrior who fought against the savage, brutal and barbaric practice of slavery in America. She used her courage to gain her freedom; she used her compassion, spiritual strength and sheer grit to free over 1000 slaves throughout her lifetime. And even when this country failed her as a human being, she was a dedicated member of the Union Army during the civil war. Despite the dangers, the bounty on her life and the doubt she encountered from others – Tubman believed in herself, held on to her faith, courage, strength and tenacity to keep going back down South, pushing forward – facing fear and death head on – so that others could be free. Even in her later years, Tubman stood up for women’s rights strongly participating in the women’s suffrage movement.
So, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, I am reminded of Harriet Tubman and the many women on whose shoulders I stand. Sometimes, as women, we get tired of dealing with having to prove we have a right to be at the corporate table; we get tired of having to repeat ourselves in meetings just to be heard, we get tired of being told no when we know we are just as prepared, if not more so, than our male counterparts. And as a black woman – dealing with racism in all aspects of our lives – Believe me when I tell you…It. Is. Frustrating.
But then, I remember what Harriet Tubman did for a living; so I straighten my crown and keep pushing.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I offer these words of wisdom:
Be free like Harriet Tubman. Despite her chained physical beginnings – Tubman was always free in her mind. Don’t believe the naysayers, those who put you down, those who want to “keep you in your place.” Free the noise from your mind and be free to soar to reach your greatest dreams.
Do your homework and put in the work like Harriet Tubman. Now, don’t get it twisted - Harriet put in the work…she went through the fire…she studied her path, knew her adversaries and what obstacles stood in her path. But she did not stop. Put in the work, know your craft and do your homework to get to your best next.
Believe in your abilities, trust your instincts and believe in you like Harriet Tubman. Enough said.
Bring others along like Harriet Tubman. She lived her life freeing others, even when they did not know how to get to freedom. She led them, she guided them, she protected them. Mentor and sponsor other women. Lift up other women don’t tear them down. Position others for success in meetings, in your power circles, in the board room, in your networks. There is power in giving back for the greater good of others.
Be determined like Harriet Tubman. Never give up on your dreams and don’t let “no” stop you. When you get knocked down, get back up…period.
Keep the faith and know there is a higher power driving your destiny.
I salute the women of yesterday, today and tomorrow. I pray that I lead my life in a way that honors the legacy of our heritage, recognizes the resilience, innovation and strength of the women of today and encourages those in the pipeline to be all they dream to be as we celebrate Women’s History Month. And I challenge you to do the same.
Gayle Saunders, APR is Founder and CEO of The Saunders PR Group. She is a speaker, and sought after panelist to speak on crisis communications, diversity in PR and living your best life.