The highly anticipated Harriet film from Focus Features starring Cynthia Erivo is in theaters today!
Harriet tells the story of the iconic and beloved, American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who earns the biblical nickname “Moses” for leading her people to freedom!
I was honored to attend a private media screening of the film at Atlanta’s Regal Atlantic Station back in October.
For all of the folks who took issue with Cynthia Erivo portraying Harriet Tubman, she will make you a believer. Cynthia is STUNNING!
Erivo was able to tap into why Harriet Tubman was so FEARLESS…… Her FAITH!
“God don’t mean people to own people!”
Most of the movie is centered around her character Araminta “Minty” Ross trips back to Maryland to free her family from slavery. ( she doesn’t change her name to Harriet Tubman until she makes it to Philadelphia.) In the film Minty prays for the death of her master after he refused to set her free with her husband. He ends up dying, and his son, unbothered by the power of her prayers, puts Minty up for sale, and Minty leaves her husband, mother, father, and siblings behind to escape.
“I prayed all night long for my master till the first of March”. When her prayers did not work she changed it to: “Oh Lord, if you ain’t never going to change than man’s heart, kill him, Lord, and take him out of the way”.
It was her father who connected her to the Underground Railroad through a free black preacher named Samuel Green. Minty walked 100 miles to freedom!
Once in Philadelphia she meets abolitionist William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.), chairman of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Still asks her how she was able to walk 100 miles to freedom by herself and she said,
” I walk with the Lord!”
He introduces her to boarding house owner Marie (Janelle Monae) who cleans her up, finds her work, and teaches her how to use a gun for her return trips to Maryland.
Even though Harriet was free, she felt like a stranger in a strange land, because she was alone. Her husband and family were still in Maryland. This ignited her first trip back to Maryland.
I’m going back. Without my husband and my family, I’m just a stranger in a strange land. If I’m free, they should be too!”
Harriet’s first trip back home was to rescue her husband John Tubman. But, she returns to find that he has remarried and has a baby on the way. Visibly heartbroken, it shifts her mission and takes her on a path she would be on the rest of her life…. Bringing as many people as she could to freedom.
“I would give every last drop of blood in my veins until this monster called slavery is dead!”
Dreams and Visions
Her visions from God was how she was able to escape and return to rescue others. Harriet couldn’t read, she relied on God and memory. Tubman would experience these visions during her trips and she saw them as messages from God. In one scene the escape route she would take with her brothers and their families, God gave her a vision that danger was that way, so she decided they had to walk through the river to freedom. As she began walking, her brothers, afraid stayed back on the bank and watched. She got middle ways through the river when she prayed,” rivers of living water flow through me.” she made it to the other side safely and they followed.
I left the theater inspired and more determined in the words of Harriet Tubman, to follow God’s lead!
’Twant me, ’twas the Lord. I always told him, “I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,” and he always did.