Harriet, We Hardly Knew Ya
She wasn't actually (I made you pause, right?), but how much do you really know about Harriet Tubman? If you're like me, and it's been, ahem, decades since you went to school, and if you're like most Americans, and had a whitewashed view of history taught to you, chances are you know this about Harriet Tubman:
She ran the Underground Railroad and helped rescue and essentially free hundreds of slaves pre, during and post Civil War
She was supposed to be on the $20 bill, but, well, this administration felt it was better to keep a slave owner on the bill instead
And likely that's it
She Was a War Hero
So it wasn't hundreds, but thousands of slaves she rescued. And her name isn't Harriet. It's Araminta, but she was also known as Minty. She was a mere 5 ft. tall and was born into slavery. When she escaped, she was a rare woman to do so (most fugitive slaves were men) and she'd never left her county. But she had unparalleled instincts for navigating riverbanks and avoiding detection and many called it a second-sight. She became so renowned and feared that the Union army hired her to be a war-time spy. She continued to free slaves, and in one attack, managed to get 750 slaves on a gunboat, leaving the plantation empty.
After the war she was given Commander papers (not that this prevented harassment and discrimination - after all, why would a black woman have soldier's papers?) and then she became active in the women's suffrage movement. She was, not surprisingly, never compensated for any of her work, and had a hard time making money until she died. But she never complained and just had a work ethic and a determination that was beyond compare.
Celebrating Women and Their Stories
So why am I talking about Araminta? It's Women's History Month (or Herstory for you die-hards), but Sunday is also International Women's Day. One thing I realized as I'm reading the book where I learned about Araminta, is that we never really know someone's story. Especially women's stories. We're told things, we might retain things, but truly to know who someone is takes a lot more than a course or a class. And frankly, we're rarely taught the stories about the women we should get to know and learn about.
Tell Your Story
So, if you're a woman, I want to encourage you to tell your story. And if you aren't a woman, I encourage you to listen to women's stories and seek them out. And more importantly, seek out stories from women who aren't like you. Remember history just doesn't mean white history. Make an effort to learn about women who aren't your race, your ethnicity or your sexual orientation. Here are a few ways to start:
Check out the stories of women that history has forgotten with this amazing PBS series.
Talk to people who don't look like you at your next networking or work event. And listen.
Download Catalyst's #Biascorrect photo generator and slack plug-in and start identifying your unconscious bias (we ALL have them).
You'll See This One Coming
Develop your Personality Brand. If you have a distinct point of view, a distinct brand, a distinct voice, people will know who you are and what you stand for. So stop shying away from sharing your amazing talents and gifts. The world needs strong women and strong women's voices. It's time to start F%&king Yelling from the rooftops.
Never Say No to Personality
Need help yelling? Download my About Me Mad Libs and figure out who you are and what you stand for. Then share that sh%t everywhere! Did I mention it's free?