Abolitionist Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) is frequently credited for the admonition to escaped slaves traveling in the Underground Railroad:
“Children, if you are tired. keep going. If you are hungry, keep going. If you want to taste freedom, keep going.”
It’s not known if Tubman actually said this, but “Keep going!” might be an accurate motto. The lines have been cited in print since at least 1948. A 1956 newspaper story about Tubman’s AME Zion Church in Auburn, New York led with the lines, and a bishop of the church wrote in a 1974 book that “Harriet Tubman’s motto was ‘Keep Going.’”
American politician Hillary Clinton credited Tubman with different lines in Clinton’s August 2008 speech before the Democratic National Convention:
“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
Wikipedia: Hariet Tubman
Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross; c. 1822 – March 10, 1913) was an American abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved families and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era was an active participant in the struggle for women’s suffrage.
On April 20, 2016, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced plans to add Tubman to the front of the twenty-dollar bill, moving President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, to the rear of the bill.
Wikiquote: Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman (c. 1822 – 10 March 1913), also known as Moses, was an African-American abolitionist. An escaped slave, she worked as a farmhand, lumberjack, laundress, cook, refugee organizer, raid leader, intelligence gatherer, nurse, healer, revival speaker, feminist, fundraiser, and conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Children, if you are tired, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.
. “Harriet Tubman never said this — it comes from one of the scores of juvenile Harriet Tubman fictionalized biographies.” — Kate Larson, Harriet Tubman biographer.
Harriet Tubman Myths and Facts by Kate Clifford Larson
Fake Quote: “Children, if you are tired, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going”
Original Quote: There is no original quote for this. This quote was entirely made up, and became popularized in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement. There is no documentation, nor historical basis for this quote.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
10 February 1948, PM (New York, NY), “Repubs Lose Lincoln Day AIr to Democratic Ideas” by John T. McManus, pg. 19, col. 4:
Harriet Tubman’s rules for “passengers” during her days as a “Conductor” on the Underground Railroad included a final admonition which flagging hearts might harken to in all eras:
“Keep going. If you get scared, keep going; if you get tired, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.”
9 October 1954, Journal and Guide (Norfolk, VA), “Harriet Tubman Honored: Underground Railroad Leader’s Shrine Visited,” pg. 3, col. 5:
AUBURN, N. Y.—“Keep going,” Harriet Tubman used to say in the days of the Underground Railroad. Counseling the slaves whom she was leading to freedom, she would urge them, “children if you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste of freedom, keep going.”
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
14 March 1956, The Citizen-Advertiser (Auburn, NY), “A Look-See At harriet Tubman” by George R. Metcalf, sec. 2, pg. 1, col. 4:
Such was Harriet Tubman, the woman whose daring told her always to “keep going.”
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church:
Reality of the Black Church
By William Jacob Walls
Charlotte, NC: A.M.E. Zion Publishing House
Harriet Tubman’s motto was “Keep Going.” She was accustomed to saying to the slaves when she led them to rescue; “Children if you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want a taste freedom, keep going.”
22 December 1978, Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, “Faith: Preamble To Our Freedom” by Willa Mae Rice, pg. 16:
In his book, “The Reality of the Black Church,” the late Bishop W. J. Walls said that Harriet Tubman’s motto and her heartening message to the fleeing slaves was “Keep Going!”
If she noticed that they were growing weary, Harriet would say: “Children if you’re tired, keep going; if you’re scared, keep going; if you’re hungry, keep going; If you want a taste of freedom, keep going!”
Perhaps it is not generally known that Harriet was a faithful member of the AME Zion Church, and bequeathed her home and other properties to this denomination.
North Star Country:
Upstate New York and the Crusade for African American Freedom
By Milton C. Sernett
Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press
When leading tired slaves out of bondage Harriet Tubman would tell them, “Children, if you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.”
Leading the Way to Freedom
By Laurie Calkhoven
New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
Whenever Harriet’s passengers on the Underground Railroad got discouraged, she would say: “If you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.”
New York (NY) Times—The Caucus blog
Did Harriet Tubman Really Say That?
By SEWELL CHAN AUGUST 27, 2008 4:17 PM August 27, 2008 4:17 pm
Updated, Aug. 28 | In one of the most memorable parts of her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday evening, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton quoted the abolitionist Harriet Tubman as offering this advice:
If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.
Dr. Sernett said, “While this is frequently attributed to her, and you find it in many books written for children, I was unable to find it in any of the primary documents that date from Harriet Tubman’s life — or something that she might have recounted to someone else who then took it down firsthand.”
He believes the lines originated in “semifictional accounts of her life in the 1950s or even later, in the 1960s, when there was an explosion of interest in writers, at a time when there was a great-felt need for remedying the neglect of African-American history.”
Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
By Susan Ratcliffe
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Harriet Tubman, c. 1820-1913
Children, if you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.
attributed, but apparently a modern paraphrase of her views
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, April 21, 2016 • Permalink