Songs Celebrating Prophetic Women Leaders in History: Inclusive Songs for Resistance & Social Action

Many prophetic women leaders down through history have been ignored, excluded, demeaned, and defamed. Many have even risked their lives in the service of liberation and justice. In an effort to reclaim and draw inspiration from some of these prophetic women, I have written songs to celebrate them.

 

Inclusive Songs for Resistance & Social Action includes songs that highlight women mystics, like Julian of Norwich and Hildegard of Bingen, and women activists, like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. These songs honor the power of the Female Divine proclaimed and embodied by these prophetic women.

 

Here is one of these songs, sung to the tune “Go Down Moses,” featuring Harriet Tubman, the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad.

Harriet Tubman Leads to the Promised Land
Exodus 6:2-8; Luke 4:18-19

When Harriet Tubman leads the way, setting people free,
they call her Moses of that day, setting people free.  Refrain

The Spirit gives her faith and power, setting people free;
she rises in that urgent hour, setting people free.  Refrain

When Harriet Tubman helps those bound, setting people free,
they flee by Railroad Underground, setting people free. Refrain

With Spirit strong she risks her life, setting people free;
she helps the slaves escape the strife, setting people free.  Refrain

Like Harriet Tubman we will rise, setting people free;
like her we will be brave and wise, setting people free.  Refrain

Refrain:

Harriet Tubman leads to the promised land;
we will join her, setting people free.

Words © 2017 Jann Aldredge-Clanton                     GO DOWN MOSES

Born a slave in Maryland around 1820, Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849 and then worked hard to save money to go back and rescue other slaves. She risked her life to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, the elaborate secret network of safe houses. She became the most widely recognized symbol of the Underground Railroad.

In honor of Harriet Tubman’s courage in rescuing people from slavery, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison named her “Moses.” On numerous trips to lead a group of slaves to freedom, she placed herself in great danger. There was a bounty offered for her capture because she was a fugitive slave herself, and she was breaking the law in slave states by helping other slaves escape. Frederick Douglas, a former slave and famous abolitionist, praised her: “I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have.”

During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman worked for the Union Army as a nurse, cook, spy and scout. She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, guiding the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.

Later, Harriet Tubman also worked for the liberation of women. She supported the women’s rights movement because she believed in the equality of all people, black or white, female or male. As a woman who had fought for her own freedom and the freedom of others, she traveled widely to give speeches in favor of women’s suffrage. Especially interested in the rights of African American women, she spoke at the first meeting of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896.

Drawn especially to the stories of deliverance in the Hebrew Scriptures, Harriet Tubman had a deep faith. She cited her religious beliefs as giving her courage to liberate people from slavery.

Harriet Tubman still has not been given the credit she deserves. There was a grassroots movement to put her picture on U.S. currency, and in April of 2016 Jack Lew, U.S. Treasury Secretary at that time, announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the center of a new $20 bill. The announcement came after the Treasury Department received a groundswell of public support for Harriet Tubman, following a campaign calling for a notable American woman to appear on U.S. currency. She emerged as the choice of more than half a million voters in an online poll, and plans moved forward to debut the Harriet Tubman $20 bill in 2020 (100 years after women earned the right to vote).

But the current administration has put these plans on the back burner. The current Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, won’t commit to the $20 Harriet Tubman bill, stating that the administration has “a lot more important issues to focus on.” Professional historians and many others have signed letters and petitions to Secretary Mnuchin, urging that he carry out previously announced plans to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill in 2020.

Inspired by Harriet Tubman, we can continue the movement for freedom and equality. We can advocate for the recognition of Harriet Tubman and other world-changing women. And like them, we can set people free to be all we’re created to be.

Harriet Tubman leads to the promised land;
we will join her, setting people free.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Colette Numajiri
    Posted January 16, 2019 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    This is so good!! I love the last two lines. Yes, help us set Her free!! Kelley and I have discussed bringing Harriet Tubman in the Goddess Project for years.

  2. janna
    Posted January 16, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Colette. I think it would be great to bring Harriet Tubman in the GP!

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