Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Harriet Tubman and the Freedom Galleries

As part of her senior project in liberal studies, Brittany Ackerman surveyed SIUE students and a group of eighth graders about what they knew about Harriet Tubman. Aspects of her research project appears throughout the freedom galleries. –H. Rambsy

Some of the answers that I got from the surveys really surprised me. The eighth graders knew more than I thought they would, and I was very impressed. To the question “How many slaves did Harriet Tubman free?” one of the students responded “50 slaves.” From the biographies of Tubman that I read, that is pretty close to how many slaves Tubman actually freed.

Many of the eighth graders mentioned wanting to learn more about Tubman’s history, her family, and what her life was like after slavery. The SIUE students offered similar answers but in more elaborate language. For example, some mentioned that they wanted to know more about “The environment in which Tubman was freeing slaves” and her contributions to America.

I surveyed a group of African American students about Tubman; their responses gave me another perspective. One of the respondents noted how Tubman “sacrificed herself to help others reach freedom;” someone else wrote that Tubman “stood up for what she believed in and led the people on the Underground Railroad;” and another respondent mentioned Tubman was “a black woman that took initiative.” Overall, the respondents were most interested in learning more about Tubman’s life after slavery. -- Brittany Ackerman

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