The Tubman Truth Project seeks to end human slavery and trafficking through outreach to organizations in the U.S. and around world. Though often hidden in the shadows, human slavery is rampant – even in the United States. By many estimates, there are more people enslaved today than at any other time in history, and the price of a human life has never been cheaper. The selling of children is the fastest growing global crime. Not only is slavery illegal in nearly every country in the world, it threatens the legitimacy of free markets worldwide.
Anita has a unique perspective on the issue. Her great-grandfather, Alonzo David DeFrantz, was part of the Benjamin “Pap” Singleton Movement in the mid- and late 1800s, named for Singleton, a Tennessee man who escaped slavery to freedom and became an abolitionist. After returning to Tennessee and fighting for equality in society for Negroes, Singleton concluded that the only path to freedom was for them to migrate to neighboring Kansas, which, although not totally free, offered them more rights and bulwarks against exploitation. The migrants were known as “Exodusters.” Anita’s grandfather took a lead role in the Exodus of 1879, as it was known. The initial movement arrived in Kansas, but also stretched to Oklahoma and Colorado. It consisted of 40,000 pioneers determined to move families to freedom. The work was physically dangerous, mentally exhausting, and came with no recompense for his own lost opportunities. But it defined him. He reportedly helped over 200 Tennessee migrants relocate to Dunlap Colony, Kansas, and made it possible for families to buy small farms and be put on the road to economic independence.
The Tubman Truth Project was named in honor of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.
In 1849, Harriet Tubman was enslaved but decided that she would be free. That was not something that women, or even men, had the courage to do. She asked her husband and others to come along, but no one joined her because it was too dangerous. Alone, she made her way to freedom. But she when arrived, she realized that it wasn’t just her freedom she was seeking — it was everyone’s. Rather than remaining in the safety of Canada and the North, Tubman decided to return and attempt to rescue her family and others in her community who were living in slavery. Tubman became a “conductor” on a network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad that transported enslaved people to freedom. Historical treatises record that she helped free more than 300 people, always at great personal risk. Her ingenuity and cunning fascinated me. She once donned a bonnet and carried two live chickens to make it appear that she was a slave out shopping for her master.
Sojourner Truth, born Isabella Baumfree, was the first black woman to win a court case against a white man to free her son from slavery in 1828. Throughout the mid-1800s, Truth delivered some of the most moving and meaningful speeches on women’s rights, notably what became known as her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech to the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851. Though she never learned to read or write, she spoke powerfully from the heart with wit and insight. In an effort to bring about sweeping reform, she linked abolishing slavery to women’s rights and universal suffrage.