I recently became a grandmother and a friend sent me an article about a group of grandmothers from all over the world that have gotten together to do some very amazing things. One especially caught my eye because I have always been fascinated with Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman’s attitude and strength of courage are something I greatly admire. Now I admire Joan Southgate too! This is an excerpt from the article in Yes! magazine:
“Joan Southgate: Walking to Retrace the Underground Railroad
“Joan Southgate, retired Cleveland social worker and grandmother of nine, used to walk a daily mile for exercise—’an old lady stroll,’ as she described it. Then one day she felt a calling to praise her ancestors who walked hundreds of miles to freedom: She decided to retrace their steps along the Underground Railroad.
In 2002, at age 73, Southgate began walking the 519 miles from Ripley, Ohio to St. Catharines, Ontario, Harriet Tubman’s terminus on the Underground Railroad. Traveling 10 miles a day, she visited Underground Railroad sites, gave presentations at schools, and slept in the homes of welcoming strangers, her own “safe houses.”
Cleveland’s Underground Railroad codename was “Hope” and Southgate, motivated by her pilgrimage, founded Restore Cleveland Hope to save the city’s only remaining Underground Railroad house from demolition. To raise money for the project, Southgate, at age 80, walked another 250 miles from Canada back to Cleveland, completing the final mile with 170 companions inspired by her journey.
The house will open next year as an Underground Railroad teaching center where Southgate hopes people will learn ‘what is possible in the way of changing the world and loving people.'”