Personally, I rarely watch movies that pertain to inflicting pain and suffering on an entire people because it hurts too much to feel. While I am positive the movie barely scratched the surface of what it must have been like to be born into incarceration so deeply ingrained into a culture that even the lack of bars and chains could not set you free, its clear message still permeated my entire being. The being that knows that we still live in a hierarchy-driven world with individuals who would willingly subscribe and justify their conformity to physical slavery if it benefited them and was a norm.
The movie is brought in with the local african-american pastor holding a brief message outside the front door of the plantation, where the slaves stood on the ground and the owners sat in the corner of the porch (much like a pastor and first-lady would in a traditional baptist church). He referenced a miniature bible about how slaves should obey their earthly masters, with a co-signed ending from the slave owners. The slaves sang and were sent along their way. It isn't until after Minty (Harriet) asks for her freedom because she wants to have children that are born free. Naturally, the slave owner appears upset and insulted and his true colors of bigotry and evilness seep through as he sends her away with unanswered prayers. This is where my thoughts began....
If physical slavery were still a 'thing', would the sentiments, just be patient and obtain your freedom the legal way still be heard in the echoes of social media posts, yahoo comments, and private conversations? Would there be justification for checking 'freedom papers' of freed slaves who traveled to the south, just as there is justification for checking the identification due to suspicion?
Back to the movie. The writers attempt to give the audience an authentic glimpse into Harriet's serious personality and her connection with God, which was much different than the typical christian's depiction today. I appreciated how they highlighted the discrepancy of how the pastor behaved in the presence of the slave owners and when he was with Harriet, who clearly went against his earlier preachings. Toward the end of the movie, Harriet was shown telling her former owner that God did not intent for people to OWN other people. I rather liked those moments in the movie because throughout history, we have used biblical writing to coerce others into being under our control and for deliberate oppression, while not holding ourselves to that same standard.
Lastly, there was a speech given in the movie by Harriet, after the fugitive slave law was passed and other members if the underground railroad wanted to halt their mission until things settled. Harriet speaks up, stating that halting may seem appropriate for those born into the privilege of freedom, but not for those who know the pain and suffering of slavery. She was not willing to allow the mission being more dangerous deter her from what God sent her to do. My take away from this scene was that, privilege allows us to judge the path (actions) others take without knowing what they are running from.
Overall, the movie did just what I had been avoiding time after time, it forced me to feel the pain AND the worth of my ancestors. This was a phenomenal depiction of strength, loyalty, courage, spirituality, human betrayal and disregard, fear and change that resulted in the freeing of over 700 slaves by an uneducated slave that refused to believe that she was capable and worth what the southern culture tried to make her believe she was worth.
I am a 36 year old wife and mother of three children. I love all-things creative and writing thought-provoking posts. I began documenting #MyEarlyMorningThoughts about two years ago and have since received many requests to begin blogging and to continue posting about everyday life, growth, maturity, and christian concepts. Don't be shy, feel free to comment your life experiences and wisdom on any post.