Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind

My People Are Free: Group Poem from the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference

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This weekend I had the joy and honor of attending the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference in Cambridge, Maryland aka Harriet Tubman’s hometown.  The gathering, which is in its sixth year, is more like a family reunion for the Harriet Tubman’s relatives and those of us who have chosen (through our continuous practices of researching and honoring her legacy) to become family in a different way.

Janell Hobson, the convener of 2013’s Harriet Tubman Symposium in Albany and the editor of the special issue of Meridians on Harriet Tumban invited me to join her at the conference and I invited Combahee Pilgrimage co-coordinators Julia Roxanne Wallace (Sangodare) and Zachari Curtis and Combahee Pilgrim Ladan to come too.  We were graciously hosted by Blain Snipstal who is currently farming the land where Harriet Tubman led her first escape.  Touching the witness tree (a grand tulip poplar that was on the land when the escape happen and now towers over the the other trees to tell the story) and visiting the place where Tubman was born and other places where she lived in the area was a sacred experience.  Meeting her family members and the descendants of her other community members in her close knit community in Eastern Shore and finding routes (spelling intentional) of my own family history in that community was miraculous.  I feel like I know something about freedom, family, risk, time and space that I didn’t know when arrived.

On Saturday during the last session of the conference I led an activity that drew on Harriet Tubman’s prophetic dream in 1862 where she saw the (still unfolding) freedom of her people.   We wrote group poem comprised of related haikus based on the mantra that Tubman is said to have chanted all day after her freedom dream:  “My people are free.”  If Harriet Tubman could talk about freedom in the present tense while posters around the country marked her as a “fugitive slave” then we can robustly and specifically speak freedom in this moment when anti-blackness and state violence ring off the sidewalks, pools, patios, and streets of this land.  This weekend we visited the Bucktown, Maryland store where Harriet Tubman was bashed in the head with an anvil as a preteen and the resilience of her dreams (potentially influenced by frontal lobe epilepsy) is still very relevant today.

Here is the poem we came up with!  If you want listen to a meditation based on the mantra “my people are free” featuring the original 21 Combahee pilgrims and yours truly, check out the Black Feminist Breathing Chorus here: http://blackfeministbreathing.tumblr.com/  And if you want to support Dark Sciences, a retreat for people of color dreamers coming up in August you can donate here or here:

if you donate $35 or more this week I will send you a print of “Shapeshift” my collage for Harriet Tubman!  Enjoy the poem!

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My People Are Free

a poem by the participants in the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference including Tina, Julia, Ladan, Blain, Zachari, Alexis, Kami, Aisha, Katryna, Deborah, Ashaki Binta, Janell, Robin, Kim, Don and more!

my people are free

to live a life to the full

overflowing now

*

my people are free

our lives never trump our love

love is life force, see

*

my people are free

in this moment of truth and

solidarity

*

my people are free

ancestor bones shift, rise, kiss

heels of progeny

*

my people are free

circles; wind and wine freely

children dance safely

*

my people are free

we feed faith new food now and

it goes down so good

*

my people are free

revolution came for us

women led the way

*

my people are free

protected secure women

are no longer robbed

*

my people are free

we breathe and build in colors

the spirit feeds us

*

my people are free

we all help nurture the seeds

of our own true selves

*

my people are free

let anything come that can

take flight, you and me

*

my people are free

dreaming loving creating

for now is the time

*

my people are free

light shining through every door

rejoice my people!

*

my people are free

be dancing laughing loving

my people are free

*

dreams come true like that

because we love each other

my people are free

*

minds no longer bound

joyful hearts in everyone

my people are free

*

my vision is clear

I live within a higher truth

my people are free

**************

Again if you want to support Dark Sciences, a retreat for people of color dreamers coming up in August you can donate here or here:

if you donate $35 or more this week I will send you a print of “Shapeshift” my collage for Harriet Tubman!

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