6 renowned black women in history who made a big impact despite their disabilities

Theodora Aidoo September 29, 2019
Harriet Tubman circa 1860-1875. Pic Credit: Library of Congress

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is known for her work in helping blacks escape from slavery in the South to freedom in the North but many people do not know that she was disabled.

Tubman was born a slave in Maryland and suffered a traumatic head wound when a slave owner threw a metal object at another slave and missed. This injury made her epileptic, caused seizures, headaches, affected her visions and some say she also had narcolepsy.

But, in 1849, she managed to escape to freedom, leaving her husband and family behind. Even though a bounty was placed on her head, she returned and led not only her family but hundreds of other slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

When the Civil War broke out, her knowledge as a nurse was invaluable. She acted as a scout and spy. She was the head of a corps of black soldiers who later led the way on Montgomery’s expedition up the Combahee River in 1863, in which more than 750 slaves were freed in a single raid.


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