Women walk for Harriet

A group of eight women trekked 116 miles from Cambridge, Md. to Kennett Square in honor of Harriet Tubman, the prime mover in the underground railroad. The trip took six days, and, for organizer Linda Harris it was a “spiritual journey.”

The Harriet Tubman Trail marks Tubman's journey from slavery to freedom and how she led thousands of slaves to freedom in the north.

Harris said she started planning the walk in March amid the news of the growing COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality reports. “I feel her spirit,” Harris said. She explained that she could hear Harriet Tubman talking to her, telling her to make the journey.

“When I went to Cambridge the first time, I heard her tell me to do it. I know that sounds crazy, but I went back there five times and I felt like I could do this,” Harris said.

For Jennifer Bailey, in the pink blouse, the walk was “a walk for freedom” and demonstrates “the greatness of our country.”

She said that in the midst of all the negative news coming out in early spring, walking and exercise was her way of staying sane. “I thought, let me walk to freedom like Harriet did.” And now, Harris said, she has a new mission in life. She wants to open a Camp Harriet in Cambridge.

“When you’re walking, and you’re exercising you’re freeing your mind and your spirit. So, I want to promote walking, exercising, hiking, learning about our history, and finding common interests. We all have them, it doesn’t matter the color of our skin. I’m a singer/songwriter and I want to help children write music. That’s want I want to do,” she said.

But her mission has deeper expectations than exercise and music.

“You don’t know what you don’t know until you go inside. Until we come together, we are not free. We are chained by our biases, our hatred, and until we can release those things, we are all enslaved,” Harris said. “We have to free our minds, then the rest will follow.”

As if to echo that idea, Jennifer Bailey, one of the walkers, said the walk was “a walk for freedom” and a way to “remember the greatness of the country.”

Mary Hutchins, of Historic Kennett Square, said having the group end their journey in Kennett Square was a way to remember and honor the significance of the strong Quaker background of the area and the fact that Kennett Square was a key point in the underground railroad and that many homes in the borough have secret hiding places were slaves who fled stayed before settling down in free states or Canada.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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