cover image Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman: Public Mystic and Freedom Fighter

Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman: Public Mystic and Freedom Fighter

Therese Taylor-Stinson. Broadleaf, $25.99 (172p) ISBN 978-150-647833-3

Deacon Taylor-Stinson (Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around) disappoints with this thinly researched biography of Harriet Tubman. Casting the abolitionist as a “public mystic” who found “emotional emancipation through her... relationship with the Divine,” the author loosely sketches the events of Tubman’s life. Born into slavery in 1822 Maryland, Araminta Ross sustained a brain injury at 12 that left her with a form of epilepsy that spurred religious visions. She married John Tubman in 1844 and several years later escaped Maryland for Pennsylvania in search of freedom. There, she became an integral part of the Underground Railroad, using her skills and gifts—including, Taylor-Stinson writes, inspiration from “a deep connection with a Supreme Being”—to usher enslaved people to freedom. Taylor-Stinson weaves in meditations on indigenous African wisdom, her own spiritual journey, and social justice issues, and includes periodic sections entitled “Harriet’s Apothecary” that invite readers to “enter into the mystical” through practices like prayer. Taylor-Stinson leans heavily on conjecture, for example suggesting that “being acquainted with Mother Earth” helped Tubman guide enslaved people through the natural world, and does little to prove her role as a “public mystic.” There are plenty of better options for those interested in a Tubman biography. (Feb.)