Harriet Tubman Inspires A Women’s Trek On The Canal Trail
by Ariela Martin | Mar 11, 2013 1:33 pm
Posted to: Black History, Health, Newhallville
One hundred minutes marked 100 years for ten African-American women who took a walk Sunday in honor of the 100th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s passing. It was a walk for a different kind of freedom—health and well-being.
The women met at the entrance to the Farmington Canal Trail at Munson and Canal streets at precisely 4:30 to synchronize their first strides with those of thousands of other women across the country embarking on the same commemorative march.
The movement was organized by GirlTrek, a “national nonprofit organization whose goal is to encourage women of color to improve their health by moving,” said New Haven march organizer Mubarakah Ibrahim (pictured above), founder of Balance Fitness.
Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who ferried more than 70 other slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad. She was a leading abolitionist as well as a suffragist.
“It’s been 100 years since the death of Harriet Tubman, so we use that as an incentive of getting women out to take the initiative to improve their health,” Ibrahim said. “The freedom that we’re earning today is freedom of illness and sadness and all the things that come with being unhealthy.”
Carolyn Scott saw the flier for the GirlTrek walk in the Inner City News, and immediately spread the word to her friends, who joined her for the walk. “It’s always good to walk,” Scott reflected, “but the cause of this walk is what is really amazing. [Harriet Tubman] died at 93, and she lived long because she walked. That’s an inspiration that we should all follow.”
One of her friends, Charlene Thomas, agreed. “I’m just happy to get outside again!” she said
The flier read, “If Harriet Tubman could walk to freedom, we could walk for better health!”
Babz Rawls-Ivy, managing editor of the Inner City News, was ecstatic about the event, and was pleased that New Haven women were inspired to come out because they saw the flier in the paper. “GirlTrek is really speaking out to the African-American community about taking back our health,” she said. “Walking is free, and it’s easy. It was just wonderful to have an activity that didn’t necessarily have a monetary barrier to it. The women can just go out and walk. It’s not about a race, or how fit you are. It’s social, and good exercise. And this trail is such a wonderful jewel.”
“On a good day,” Yoland Highsmith walks three to four miles in her neighborhood in the Hill. Sunday wasn’t any different, though “it is significant for me and the other women,” she said. “This walk is a wonderful way to link history and now. I would not have linked Harriet Tubman with walking, even though that’s what she did! Just to lift that piece of history and apply it to us. It’s combining health, history, and women power all in one.”
Ariela Martin, a student at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, is an Independent contributing writer.
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Thank you Ariela Martin for walking with us! I appreciated your enthusiasm and genuine interest.
It was a beautiful day for a walk and the company of women made it even more special. Oh and kudos to the younger ladies who came because their Mom’s invited (made) them was a nice generational compliment.
Great story! tremendous way to connect history with the present. hopefully everyone will get a fuller appreciation for the tremendous sacrifice Harriet Tubman made.