WATCH: Harriet Tubman Explained

TheGrio is celebrating Juneteenth by sharing Harriet Tubman's story, as told by Natasha S. Alford.

With Juneteenth just behind us, theGrio is taking a look back at the figures that made the day possible. The video above explains the powerful life of Harriet Tubman and the following is a transcript which has been lightly edited for clarity.

Natasha S. Alford [00:00:02] Harriet Tubman is known for guiding over 300 enslaved people to freedom through the Underground Railroad. But did you know she also played a significant part in the Civil War as a spy? Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross in 1822 in Maryland. After her escape in 1849, she adopted the name Harriet Tubman as a tribute to her mother, Harriet Green, and Tubman, the surname of her first husband, John Tubman.

During the war, Tubman worked as an intelligence gatherer, scout and a nurse for the Union Army. From roughly 1862 to 1865, while in her early forties, she utilized her extensive knowledge of the South and her experience guiding enslaved Black people to freedom to provide crucial information to Union commanders. Harriet earned the nickname “Moses” for helping to lead her people to freedom. Tubman, who was barely five feet tall, would disguise herself as a washerwoman, an elderly woman or a freed slave seeking employment to move undetected through enemy territory, collecting valuable intelligence on troop movements and supply routes.

One of Harriet’s most notable accomplishments was her role in the Combahee River Raid in June 1863. She guided Union gunboats up the Combahee River in South Carolina, providing key intelligence about Confederate positions and mines. With her assistance, this raid resulted in the liberation of over 700 enslaved Black people and the destruction of Confederate supplies and infrastructure.

She couldn’t swim, but she utilized her extensive knowledge of the rivers and swamps to read the natural world. Their survival depended on her ability to remember every single detail. After her service as a Civil War spy, Harriet continued to contribute to various causes and advocate for the rights of African-Americans and women. Harriet worked as a nurse during and after the Civil War. She provided medical aid and assistance to wounded soldiers.

Tubman also actively supported the women’s suffrage movement, advocating for women’s right to vote. In 1859, she eventually settled in Auburn, New York, where she purchased a property and became an active member of her community until her passing in 1913. Harriet Tubman’s remarkable bravery, resourcefulness and unwavering commitment to justice made her a vital asset during the Civil War and solidified her legacy as a true American hero.

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