Brothers Doing Better (while carrying the Black Lives Matter banner) marched with over 40 different community schools and organizations to honor the most iconic abolitionist of all time Harriet Tubman on March 7th 2020.
After the parade community members came together at the Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Branch. Library for presentations, skits, poems, musical performances, and speeches meant to honor the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman.
In fact one of the speakers at this first ever Harriet Tubman day parade and celebration was our brother and comrade Andy Canizares speaking on behalf of BDB. A transcript of Andy’s speech titled “Why We Still Fight Harriet Tubman’s Fight In Abolition” can be found at the bottom of this page. And video of the speech can of course be found on our social media site https://www.facebook.com/Brothersdoingbetter.
We Still Fight Harriet Tubman’s Fight in Abolition
By Andy Canizares
Harriet Tubman is a prime example of a leader who fights for what is right, not what is necessarily legal. Born into bondage, she was dealt with the inhumane and legal economic system of chattel slavery in the United States of America. Black Americans were legally recognized as property of White slaveowners who could do as they pleased with them—it was a system Harriet Tubman knew was incongruent with freedom and respect for the humanity of herself and her family. And so, she became a prominent abolitionist and risked her life to lead her family and hundreds of slaves from this legal plantation system to freedom.
After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 passed, legalizing the ability for White slaveowners to hunt down Black Americans escaping to freedom, Harriet Tubman amplified her efforts in helping fugitives escape by guiding them farther north into Canada through the Underground Railroad. She helped plan the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry to spark a slave revolt. Harriet Tubman’s fight for the freedom of Black slaves in her day led to slaveowners labeling her as a terrorist and posting a $40,000 reward for her capture or death. But do we remember Harriet Tubman today as a terrorist, or a freedom fighter dismantling the wicked and cruel system for profit known as chattel slavery?
Her fight to abolish the exploitation of Black bodies in the 19th century is still our fight in the 21st century. The prison-industrial complex is our modern wicked for-profit system that exploits Black and Brown bodies. Today we see militant policing and criminalization of Black and Brown communities that funnel our family, friends, and neighbors into the prison system. We then see state authorities extracting prison labor from those same people for 14 cents per hour.
The democracy we wish to live in cannot be built on the backs of prison labor, and Abolitionists today are against this modern slavery and to close the repugnant prisons that exploit Black and Brown bodies. For us to dismantle the prison-industrial complex, abolitionists build the capacity of our communities so we wouldn’t need prisons in the future. Will we remember our modern-day abolitionists fondly the same we do for Harriet Tubman?
Prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba said, “As humans we will always harm each other. Harm is inevitable. But the work is committing ourselves to not repeating the same harms.” I ask you to join our community groups, Black Love Resists in the Rust and Brothers Doing Better, who explore paths of healing for our communities and practice ways of holding each other accountable without relying on prison systems. Brothers Doing Better, a group for men and masculine identifying people of color, is having our next meeting on the 20th of the month at 5:00 p.m. at 345 West Ferry. Please come and join our efforts to heal each other and resist violent carceral systems.