Black History: Not Just a Month

I have been sitting with the significance of Black History Month and how it affirms our lives as people of the African Diaspora and beyond. I am clear that if we do not understand our history we are more likely to repeat it and that includes both parts that affirm and deplete us.

I have come to know that concepts, celebrations, traditions, and practices have their best impact when we can relate. For me, the focus during these 28 days has been on the knowledge of Black history on my life in particular and Sacred Women International as a whole.

The history of African-Canadians’ contribution to Canada is far beyond anything I can begin to write in this blog; the list of those who are usually acknowledged are many yet too few. So, for the purposes of this blog I have chosen to speak to the (S)Hero whose story ushered me through my own mental, emotional and spiritual transformation several years ago.

My beloved Harriet Tubman, I stand on your shoulders, I walk on your back, my steps are in your shadow. Ase!

Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist and an integral part of the Underground Railroad. She was one of the most famous “conductors” on the underground railroad and led  hundreds of slaves into Canada to their FREEDOM, despite a $40,000 reward for her capture, dead or alive.

I was inspired by her story me to keep stepping forward to my own “freedom” in spite of the many obstacles, what ifs, can’ts, nay sayings, lived history, and internal struggles I was facing at the time. Harriet Tubman fuelled my journey to mental, emotional, physical and spiritual FREEDOM.

As a teen, Harriet was often used as a mule to pull the plough on the plantation. Several years ago I had the divine opportunity to be part of a 12hrs reenactment on a plantation and shared the pulling of this 200lbs plough with two other sisters. I experienced excruciating physical responses to the consequence of this task, including a premature menstrual cycle. I accepted that it was my choice to have this temporary experience for a deeper learning. However, for Harriet it was not a choice.  In the very moment, I paid homage to my ancestor for her perseverance through the pain and discomfort.  Thank you Harriet for giving me a glimpse at PERSEVERANCE.

Even as a teen Harriet understood injustice. One day she attempted to defend a fellow field hand who was trying to escape and got caught. The overseer angrily threw a 2lbs weight at the field hand and Harriet jumped between them. The weight hit her in the head resulting in lifelong headaches, seizures, and narcolepsy. Even with physical disabilities, Harriet transformed the lives of hundreds to freedom. True TENACITY.

This courageous woman  ran away from the plantation in the middle of the night. She travelled north at night with the guide of the North Star and instructions from helpers in the Underground Railroad. She travelled about ninety miles to Pennsylvania. I gained COURAGE from Harriet.

This courageous woman was not only RESOURCEFUL, she was also a STRATEGIST. During her time in Philadelphia working odd jobs to take care of her basic needs, she carefully and purposefully planned her return to Maryland to help her family and those who were willing to choose freedom.

Interestingly enough, when Harriet went to get her husband to bring him to freedom she  discovered that he had taken another wife, a free woman. Yes, Harriet experienced BETRAYAL yet, she was not deterred. She said, “I freed a thousand slaves and I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”  When I read that quote from Harriet, I got it! When we are on our vision journey there will be times when even those closest and dearest to us cannot join us, either because they do not know they need to be ‘freed’ or that their ‘freedom’ looks different; and, they will either shift in or shift out of our lives for both our good. Beloved, this is the Universal Law of RHYTHM.

With each successful trip South  Harriet gained greater  confidence in her freedom strategy and ability as a LEADER. It should be noted, she never lost one person on her many journeys. There is claim that  Harriet carried a long rifle with her both for protection as well as to ensure those she was helping stayed focused on the mission. She warned them that if they changed their mind and surrendered or returned to their owners, she would shoot them: “I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death: if I could not have one, I would have the other.” Harriet’s COMMITMENT to her vision to the extent that she would not allow anything or anyone to sabotage her vision greatly inspired my journey/my ministry/my vision.

Eventually, Harriet Tubman settled in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada and in  1913 at 91 years old Harriet Tubman transitioned.  Harriet Tubman left us/me a LEGACY which I consider the model to mental, emotional, physical and spiritual freedom. She sacrificed her life and risked her own freedom to bring others to their FREEDOM. Thank you my beloved master teacher, Harriet Tubman.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman

During this month, may you reflect on the legacy of Harriet Tubman and so many others who have paved the way for us.  Here are 3 questions for your consideration:

  1. Based on your own history, what are you learning about yourself?
  2. From your learning, are there habits, behaviours, or practices that you need to release to move forward more seamlessly?
  3. What must you embrace about your history and yourself so that you can realize your VISION/DREAM/DESIRE?

Happy Black History Month.

I Love you always and in all ways,

Aina-Nia Ayo’dele

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