Joyful and The Spirit of New Orleans has been touched by thesong “Stand Up” and decided to open their European shows with this very moving song about Harriet Tubman’s life and pursuit of freedom for all. The song talks about her life-long devotion to rescuing slaves from their masters and plantations in the United States.
Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross in 1822 . She died in 1913. She was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, including family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. During the American Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army. In her later years, Tubman was an activist in the movement for women’s suffrage.
Born enslaved in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman was beaten and whipped by her various masters as a child. Early in life, she suffered a traumatic head wound when an irate overseer threw a heavy metal weight intending to hit another enslaved person, but hit her instead. The injury caused dizziness, pain, and spells of hypersomnia, which occurred throughout her life. After her injury, Tubman began experiencing strange visions and vivid dreams, which she ascribed to premonitions from God. These experiences, combined with her Methodist upbringing, led her to become devoutly religious.
In 1849, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, only to return to Maryland to rescue her family soon after. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives with her out of the state, and eventually guided dozens of other enslaved people to freedom. Traveling by night and in extreme secrecy, Tubman (or “Moses“, as she was called) “never lost a passenger”. After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed, she helped guide fugitives farther north into British North America (Canada), and helped newly freed enslaved people find work. Tubman met John Brown in 1858, and helped him plan and recruit supporters for his 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry.
With my face turned to the sun
Weight on my shoulders
A bullet in my gun
Oh, I got eyes in the back of my head
Just in case I have to run
I do what I can when I can while I can for my people
While the clouds roll back and the stars fill the night
That’s when I’m gonna stand up
Take my people with me
Together we are going
To a brand new home
Far across the river
Can you hear freedom calling?
Calling me to answer
Gonna keep on keepin’ on
I can feel it in my bones
Early in the mornin’
Before the sun begins to shine
We’re gonna start movin’
Towards that separating line
I’m wadin’ through muddy waters
You know I got a made-up mind
And I don’t mind if I lose any blood on the way to salvation
And I’ll fight with the strength that I got until I die