How to Be Like Harriet Tubman

As we end one year and begin another, many people find themselves reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the coming year. You may ask: 

  • Were you the best version of yourself in 2021? 
  • Who do you want to be in 2022? 
  • Do you have a role model that you look to for inspiration? 

One such inspirational person who made the world a better place was Harriet Tubman. Most well known for her remarkable role with the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman's relatives say she was an “ordinary woman who did extraordinary things.” Her chosen home for over 50 years, Cayuga County, helps show us who Harriet Tubman was and her many attributes that made her an incredible person! 

Here are some of the characteristics that made up this “ordinary woman” and some ways to #BeLikeHarriet in 2022.

BRAVE. Harriet Tubman decided during her personal escape that she had the right to two things: liberty or death and was bound to have one of them. Her self-sacrifice was evident as she risked life and limb on each rescue mission and during the Civil War to free others. 

Come visit the Harriet Tubman Home and Harriet Tubman National Historical Park for inspiration and find your brave in Cayuga County.

COMPASSIONATE. Feeling the indignity and brutal impacts of slavery, Harriet Tubman wanted to alleviate the negative effects for others. Her work speaks to her desire to seek freedom, equality, safety, and security of her family and other passengers – which she referred to as her brood. 

The Equal Rights Heritage Center is a place filled with exhibits of some of the most heroic people in New York State, who fought for the equality of all. It’s a perfect reminder to show compassion for yourself and those around you.

FARMER. At a young age, Harriet Tubman was hired out to work as a fieldhand on the plantation. She tended crops and looked after farm animals. After escaping to freedom and settling in Auburn, NY, she owned and operated her own farm where she raised pigs, grew vegetables, and tended to her orchard. 

A stroll through Ward O'Hara Agricultural & Country Living Museum will provide a firsthand experience of what farm life was like in the 19th and 20th centuries. To farm is to cultivate, whether it be a relationship, personal development, or educating others, we all have opportunities for growth.

NATURALIST. Ben Ross, Harriet Tubman’s father, was an expert lumberjack and he lived off the land. He taught Tubman how to navigate through forests, fields, and waterways, and find food and places to hide. Tubman used this knowledge of the natural environment to survive while traveling along the Underground Railroad. 

Enjoy nature at some of the many parks in Cayuga County. From the five waterfalls at Fillmore Glen State Park in Moravia to the scenic vistas from Long Point and Fair Haven Beach State Parks, being one with nature is therapeutic indeed!

HUMANITARIAN. Harriet Tubman was always caring for those in need, supplying shelter, food, clothing, and medical attention. While she lived in Auburn, NY she worked with the AME Zion Church to create the John Brown Home for the Colored Indigent and Aged (founded by Harriet Tubman on her property), among the earliest nursing and assisted living facilities for African Americans in the country. Tubman herself became a patient of the home for the last two years of her life and it later became known as the Tubman Home for the Aged

There are many ways to lend a helping hand: volunteer work, charitable donations or just a kind word. When you help others, you may find that you are helping yourself.

SPIRITUAL. Her spiritual upbringing led to Harriet Tubman’s deep faith. She believed in God as her creator, guide, protector, and deliverer. In fact, she said that she spoke with him every day, as told by William Garrett. Tubman believed that God ordained her to do the work that she did and granted her the strength and trust needed to risk her life to save others. 

Spend some time at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn NY, where Harriet Tubman married her second husband, Nelson Davis. Or attend worship at the Harriet Tubman Memorial AME Zion Church, which desires to be a haven of hope, healing, help, and resources to the community as a memorial to Harriet Tubman. Spirituality can mean different things to different people. If you’re unsure, explore and find what speaks to you.