Local group of women retrace Harriet Tubman's route to freedom

Nearly 116 miles in, Linda Harris and seven other women have almost completed a journey that in some ways started nearly 200 years ago.

“We are just about a mile and a half outside of Kennett Square,” Harris said Thursday afternoon. “It’s where Harriet Tubman crossed the line to freedom.”

The idea came to Harris several months back.

“We had the pandemic, we had all the killings and the social unrest and the divisiveness, and it was driving me crazy, making me very sad, very depressed, and I honestly did not feel free,” she said. “So I thought of Harriet and her walk to freedom.”

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Harris posted a message on Facebook, asking if anyone wanted to join her in following Tubman’s route, from Cambridge, Maryland, to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. “I said, ‘hey, I want to walk the Underground Railroad,” she recalled.

And by last Saturday, the women – who didn’t know each other previously – were off. They walked about 20 miles per day, sleeping in hotels, and spreading that feeling of freedom all over the route.

They met Jen, who baked for them. They met Curtis, who gave one of the women a knee brace. And they danced and sang almost the whole time – “we’ve got Prince, we’ve got Ray Charles, we’ve got all kinds of music that we dance to,” Harris said.

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There were moments of reflection and shock too, like when the group passed a home with a yard full of both American and Confederate flags, which Harris said affirmed why she wanted to make the trip in the first place.

“How can you have a Confederate flag and a United States flag?” she asked. “It’s a paradox, don’t you think?”

Now, in the homestretch, she calls it all a life-changing experience, and she hopes it inspires others.

“This is the greatest country in the world,” Harris said. “Let’s treat it that way, and let’s treat each other that way.”

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