‘Woefully Uninformed’: Kanye West Slammed for Saying Harriet Tubman ‘Never Actually Freed the Slaves’Historians in the News
tags: slavery, Civil War, Harriet Tubman
In a statement to The Post, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, a Rutgers University professor who specializes in African American women’s history, echoed calls for West to become better educated.
“Kanye West is in desperate need of a crash course in American History. His comments were erroneous and serve as a pathetic attempt to stimulate public attention,” Dunbar said, calling Tubman a “hero.”
Regarded as “the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s ‘conductors,’” Tubman made more than a dozen trips to the South over the course of a decade, escorting hundreds of enslaved people to freedom, according to PBS. During the Civil War, Tubman worked as a nurse and a scout for the Union, and became the first woman to lead an armed and successful military attack at the time, Dunbar told The Post. Later in her life, Tubman was also an advocate for women’s suffrage.
There is now an ongoing effort to get Tubman on the $20 bill, in place of former president Andrew Jackson, who was an enslaver.
“Tubman was one of the most important social justice activists in our nation’s history and West’s words will never erase this fact,” Dunbar said. “He’s a distraction and I suggest we move along and pay him no mind.”
But though Brenda E. Stevenson, a professor of history and African American studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, agreed that West’s comments were “woefully uninformed,” she stressed that his influence should not be entirely discounted.
“He’s a celebrity and he has a great following of young people in particular,” Stevenson told The Post. “Some may be as uninformed as he is and believe that what he says is true, so that’s what’s disturbing to me.
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