I know I’ve spoken about her before, but for Women’s History Month, I’m just going to speak about her again. Because she was amazing. Harriet Jacobs is best known for her slave narrative “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” She published the book in 1861, the story of her life as slave. The most remarkable portions of the book have her hiding out in a garret, nearby her former master’s home for nearly seven years, while he searched for her far and wide, unsuccessfully.
After her freedom was purchased, Jacobs sought to do good works. She went to first to Washington, D.C. and Virginia to help runaway slaves. She raised money for schools to help runaway slaves and their children learn how to read and write.
After the war, Jacobs traveled further south with her daughter to see to the care, feeding and education of the enslaved on the Georgia coast in Savannah and its environs. The freed population of Savannah had swelled to three times the size of the normal population. Jacobs worked to make sure the freed slaves obtained land to work on, books and schooling for their children.
Jacobs worked hard for a new day with complete understanding having been formerly enslaved herself. Activists like Jacobs and her daughter Louisa are wonderful examples of the desire of African Americans to help their formerly enslaved human family to realize themselves fully as human beings. They are examples, indeed.