“I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Harriet Ross in Maryland in 1820, was a great warrior, military commander and revolutionary leader. She escaped slavery and led the flight of hundreds of  slaves out of the plantations of the slave-holding states in the South. She led them, through the “Underground Railroad” to the northern free states and to the Canadian territory. Tubman operated the “Underground Railroad” for 15 years at great risk to her own life as she was a fugitive slave herself who was contravening the laws in slave states by helping fellow slaves to escape.


It must be stated that through the nineteen times that she journeyed into the South Tubman freed some three hundred slaves and never lost anyone she was leading to freedom. She took her mission very seriously and cautioned that she will kill  those who dared to return to the plantations. To this end she warned, “You’ll be free or die.”

In 1859 she proceeded to Maryland to free slaves undeterred by the efforts of the Southern slaveowners, who had placed a $40,000 bounty on her head, to capture her.  The slaveholders had also threatened to burn her alive upon her capture. She escaped death many times for the 15 years she engaged in the “Underground Railroad” activities.

During this period Tubman also planned a raid on Harpers Ferry with John Brown so as to obtain weapons from the federal arsenal and use this to free the slaves of Maryland and Virginia. While the raid itself was unsuccessful, Tubman’s insight into support networks and resources was of particular significance to this operation. The raid was embarked on in October 16, 1859 and Tubman was said to have been too ill to participate in it. With the assistance of other great activists of that time she tirelessly propagated and agitated on behalf of the slaves. She took the approach that while the enemy could talk peace and compromise as convincingly as they could she knew that in the final analysis it will come down to war as the political situation dictated.

In 1860 Harriet Tubman victoriously led a struggle to rescue a fugitive slave from the police in New York. She evidently clung to the prisoner for 30 minutes while being brutally beaten by the police and guards. She only let go after the police were exhausted and released the prisoner. She apparently went into hiding for many weeks thereafter.


She joined the Northern Army during the Civil War where she acted as spy and to this end was part of many of the great battles. As a military commander she  successfully led  a military regiment of 300 Black soldiers in an attack at Combahee Ferry, S.C. in 1863 and thus freed 756 slaves. During her service in the army she also organized a hospital for black soldiers where she treated and healed her patients with indigenous medicine and remedies.


Harriet Tubman died on 10 March 1913. On this 103rd anniversary of her death BLF pays tribute to her revolutionary legacy by vowing to put blacks first for land first until slavery is completely obliterated!


10 March 2016

Contact Details

Black First Land First Mail:

Zanele Lwana
(National Spokesperson)
Cell: +27 79 486 9087

Lindsay Maasdorp
(National Spokesperson)
Cell: +27 79 915 2957


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