On March 7th, the hashtag #BringHarrietHome emerged, and has quickly become the battle cry for anyone and everyone supporting the Harriet Tubman Home’s determined crowdfunding effort to rescue a newly discovered and extremely rare photo of the courageous freedom fighter (c.1822 – March 10, 1913) from a present-day New York City auction block. It’s an important fight that values preservation over possession. It’s a critical mission to protect the legacy of Harriet Tubman – abolitionist, conductor of the Underground Railroad, Civil War spy, American hero – and it still needs a groundswell of public support to succeed.
What’s historically “remarkable” about the photo at the center of the #BringHarrietHome campaign is that it shows a much younger Tubman (estimated to be 43-46 years old) than we’ve seen, to date, in the very few photos that do exist of her, at a time never before seen in her extraordinary life.
“I have such a problem with the fact that she’s, the photo, is being auctioned off… it’s a huge emotional issue.”
Bottom line… it’s a highly significant artifact of Harriet Tubman’s life and covert work, which is why the Harriet Tubman Home, a non-profit that for the last 113 years has survived on minimal donations to maintain the homestead on which Harriet lived for 50 years and died as a Free American in Auburn, NY, wants the monumental undertaking of properly preserving this photo among the other artifacts in their expert care.
The photo was consigned to New York City auction house Swann Galleries by the individual who found it within a larger photo album believed to have been owned by Tubman’s dear friend and fellow abolitionist Emily Howland. The Harriet Tubman Home’s initial pleas to Swann to take the photo off the auction block were unsuccessful. So the only chance they have at securing the photo is to try to bid on it themselves, an impossibility based on the non-profit’s excruciatingly limited resources. That’s why they’ve turned to crowdfunding, and their #BringHarrietHome campaign is getting lots of attention.
Newly discovered Harriet Tubman photo belongs in her museum! Find out how you can help #BringHarrietHome pic.twitter.com/NQCaJN9NUf
— Aisha Hinds (@AishaHinds) March 12, 2017
In the last two weeks, over 30 media outlets, including MAKERS, Mashable, EBONY, and Hyperallergic, have covered the campaign’s story, social media has been buzzing with the #BringHarrietHome hashtag, and nearly 300 people have already backed the crowdfunding campaign, pledging almost $20,000 of the Harriet Tubman Home’s $25,000 goal. With all of that, there is still a sizable funding gap that they have to close before the March 30th auction.
What’s truly inconceivable to us is how, in 2017, anyone would think to put a photo of Harriet Tubman on an auction block for a collector to claim as a possession. It’s a stomach turning notion when you consider the details of Tubman’s extraordinary life…
- She was born into slavery and escaped to freedom in early adulthood.
- She returned, again and again, to where she was previously enslaved to rescue her family and friends.
- She raised money so some of her relatives could be bought off the auction block, then led them to freedom.
- She had the courage to be a conductor of the Underground Railroad for nearly 10 years.
- She saved hundreds of lives, rescuing and guiding nearly 200 enslaved men and women from the south to freedom in the north.
- She was a leading abolitionist, a Civil War spy and a scout for the north.
- She was considered the Moses of her people.
- She was not only an American hero, but a hero for all humankind.
As far as this historically significant crowdfunding campaign has come in just two short weeks, the fight is not yet won. So please consider joining the Harriet Tubman Home on their mission to #BringHarrrietHome.