HARRIET TUBMAN WAS DISABLED

MARLENA CHERTOCK

 
 

When she was 12, Harriet Tubman jumped

in front of another slave when her master

threw a 2-pound iron weight. The blow

gave her a traumatic head injury.

 
For the rest of her life she experienced

dizziness, crushing headaches.

She led hundreds of slaves to freedom

with sleeping spells and a heaviness

 
in her head that felt like endless

2-pound weights swinging from her ears.

Sought out the North Star for guidance

even when she couldn’t tell dirt from sky.

 
These are things you don’t learn

when reading the history books.

No one dares to call Harriet Tubman

a disabled person. But why not

 
the full truth? A disabled woman of color

led hundreds of slaves to freedom.

Even when she needed brain surgery,

she refused anesthesia. Bit on a bullet instead.

 

 
 

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