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Harriet Tubman (photo: Wiki­media Commons)

Harriet Tubman deserves honor and recog­nition, which is why she was orig­i­nally scheduled to replace Pres­ident Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. According to Treasury Sec­retary Steven Mnuchin, this may not happen after all. Last month, he said the Treasury Department has not decided whether it will change the bill. No matter what the department does, Hillsdale should honor Tubman in its own way with a statue on the Liberty Walk.

Standing among pres­i­dents and prime min­isters, Fred­erick Dou­glass’ statue on the Liberty Walk is unique. He is known for his work with the abo­li­tionist movement fighting for the rights of African-Amer­icans rather than his political career. Hillsdale should con­tinue in this departure from tra­dition by com­mem­o­rating Tubman, who fought for freedom while working against the gov­ernment.

A statue of Tubman would honor her legacy and serve as a reminder of the role that Hillsdale County played in the Under­ground Railroad. Although the railroad’s secretive nature can make iden­ti­fying stops dif­ficult, the Dow House may have been a station, pos­sibly con­nected by a secret tunnel to what is now the Sigma Chi fra­ternity house, as Pro­fessor Emeritus of History Arlan Gilbert told The Col­legian last year. Mike Ven­turini, who owns and operates the Munro House Bed and Breakfast, also told The Col­legian that several buildings in Jonesville, including the Munro House, may have been stops.

Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland around 1820. Her childhood was fraught with illness and neglect. When she was in her early teens, she noticed an overseer at a store who intended to attack a fugitive slave. Tubman stood in the way to help the slave escape, but the overseer picked up a heavy metal weight from a counter and aimed at the slave. Instead, he hit Tubman in the head, breaking her skull. The injury caused fre­quent headaches and seizures, which affected Tubman for the rest of her life.

In 1849, Tubman’s owner died. Fol­lowing the sale of three of her sisters, Tubman worried for her future. She decided to escape on the Under­ground Railroad. Putting her faith in God to protect her, she con­vinced her brothers to run away with her. They escaped, but her brothers soon decided to return to the plan­tation. Tubman was not deterred. She traveled by night, fol­lowing the North Star to safety until she made her way across the Mason-Dixon Line into Philadelphia.

According to Sarah Hopkins Bradford in her 1869 book “Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman,” the now-fugitive slave worried for the family members she left behind.

“I had crossed the line,” Tubman said. “I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land; and my home after all, was down in Maryland; because my father, my mother, my brothers, and sisters, and friends were there. But I was free, and they should be free.”

Just over a year after Tubman escaped, she rescued the first of her family members. She even­tually led her parents, several of her sib­lings (including the brothers who turned back), and close to 60 others to freedom. This earned her the nickname “Moses.” In fact, evi­dence sug­gests that Tubman stopped with a group of eleven escaped slaves at the home of Fred­erick Dou­glass in 1851, which, if true, pro­vides more reason to reunite her with Dou­glass here on campus.

Her faith in God served as an important impetus. As fellow abo­li­tionist Thomas Garrett once said, “I never met any person of any color who had more con­fi­dence in the voice of God.”

A statue of Harriet Tubman would make an excellent addition to Hillsdale’s campus. Tubman’s incredible achieve­ments and sac­rifice for human rights should inspire all Hillsdale stu­dents. She ded­i­cated her life to helping others, despite her own hardship. She trusted in God to use her where she was. She con­tinued to fight for her cause during the Civil War and later advo­cated for women’s suf­frage. A statue of Tubman as the second woman on the Liberty Walk would also honor Hillsdale’s legacy of respecting women’s rights from day one.

Harriet Tubman belongs on the same walk as Pres­ident Abraham Lincoln, Fred­erick Dou­glass, and the Alpha Kappa Phi Civil War memorial. Outside of Delp Hall, she would stand close to her fellow defenders of freedom and others who advanced the cause of liberty.

Chandler Lasch is a senior studying history.