Eastern Shore

‘Harriet Would Want Us To': Women Walking 116 Miles in Tubman's Footsteps

The women said they have been moved by the kindness of strangers during their physical and spiritual journey

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A group of eight women from the Washington, D.C., area is retracing Harriet Tubman’s trek for freedom, walking 116 miles from Maryland to Pennsylvania. They say the journey holds special meaning now as many Americans stand divided. 

The hikers set out on the Tubman Byway on Saturday, starting in Cambridge, Maryland, and making their way north to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. 

Hiker Linda Harris said the group wants to pay homage to enslaved people and all who seek freedom. 

“We’ve got divisiveness and crime and hatred, and we all need to be free of those things. I’m just walking to freedom. Harriet would want us to,” she said on the path on Tuesday. 

One woman walked with a sign on her backpack. "#WeWalkWithHarriet," it read. (Courtesy of We Walk With Harriet)

They’re walking “because this is our story to tell,” they said on their Facebook page, called We Walk With Harriet. “We are walking for health, love and for justice.” 

Along the way, the women said they have gotten a sense for what people on the Underground Railroad must have seen. The landscape has surely changed since the last enslaved person made the trek in the mid-1800s.  

We’re trying to figure out, who are we again?

We Walk With Harriet participant Jennifer Bailey

But in some ways not enough has changed, they said. Their passage through Caroline County, Maryland, was sobering. 

“There was a house that was entirely — the entire yard front and back — covered with Confederate flags, the early American flag, Don’t Tread on Me flags and Trump flags. So that was a little concerning,” Harris said. 

We passed a yard along the route with flags all around. It was a bit concerning! But when we stopped at a Royal Farm...

Posted by Linda Harris on Sunday, September 6, 2020

The women have listened to music and danced along the path, and again and again encountered the kindness of strangers. One group of women heard about their journey and set out to find them. 

“They found us and they gave us wonderful little bottles of water and some snacks, but it was their presence that was the most important thing. We did a prayer circle and we all had tears in our eyes,” Jennifer Bailey said. 

Exploring the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway

Credit: Erica Jones / NBC Washington

The group expects to reach their destination by Thursday. Bailey said the reflection they’ve done as they walk and the people they’ve met have helped them find a destination in their souls. 

“We’re trying to figure out, who are we again?” she said. 

The group is raising funds for the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Dorchester, Maryland. By Wednesday morning, they had raised more than $3,400, surpassing their goal of $2,500

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