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Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman embraced faith, not fear, to free slaves

Harriet Tubman is remembered for her role in establishing the Underground Railroad and helping slaves find freedom. What is less well known is how she was motivated by her strong faith.

That could change, thanks to the new movie “Harriet,” which was released on Friday, according to the Religion News Service. She embraced faith instead of fear, said Kate Clifford Larson, a historical consultant for the movie.

READ: New movie on Tubman’s life is riveting telling of daring life

“It gave her confidence to do the things that she did,” Larson said. “She felt so guided and protected by her God, her faith, her everything spiritual that that’s what enabled her to act even when she was afraid, even when the obstacles seemed insurmountable. Her faith gave her that strength to keep moving even though she was afraid.”

The film details how her heroism was wedded to her lifelong religious beliefs.

“When the movie opens, we’re in church,” said Vanessa Bell Calloway, who portrayed Rit Ross, Tubman’s mother, in the film. “When we are introducing Harriet, she is a spiritual person, because that’s the way she was raised.”

Tubman seems to have inherited her strength from her deeply religious parents, who are known to have fasted on Fridays. In the movie, Tubman’s father, portrayed by Clarke Peters, is so committed to speaking the truth that he wears a blindfold when his daughter briefly returns home, depriving himself of seeing his daughter so he can honestly say he has not seen her.

The contradictions of faith and slavery are brought to life in the Rev. Samuel Green, a black minister portrayed in the movie by Vondie Curtis-Hall, who recites Bible verses encouraging slave obedience. Larson noted that Green may have preached what the slave owners wanted to hear. But he also was “a very good Underground Railroad stationmaster,” she said, noting that scholars have documented that he helped at least 25 people escape.

Green also advised Tubman in her work for liberty “Fear is your enemy. Trust in God,” Green tells Tubman as she plans her solo escape in the movie.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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