This retiree walked 116 miles of the Underground Railroad, following 'the light and spirit of Harriet Tubman'

After retiring in 2019, Linda Harris was ready to begin her ‘second act of life’ but her plans were put on hold when COVID-19 hit the United States and quickly spiraled into a full blown pandemic. She was searching for purpose, when she was inspired to walk 116 miles of the Underground Railroad. In the video above she details how she found strength and friendship and set off on a new journey which would lead her to create the viral social media group, We Walk With Harriet. She says of the experience, “I simply decided to follow the light and the spirit of Harriet Tubman.”

Video Transcript

[GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING]

LINDA HARRIS: I had no intentions of walking the Tubman Trail. It's just something divine, something glorious that happened. And I simply decided to follow the light and the spirit of Harriet Tubman.

[MUSIC CONTINUES]

I was inspired to go on this journey when the pandemic took over our lives. I felt that my freedoms were being taken away. And I didn't like that.

I retired July 30, 2019, last year-- or as I call it, my "actual life." And in 2020, I had two wonderful opportunities that were canceled because of COVID. So I was kind of home twiddling my thumbs, you know. And I just decided that I needed to do more.

I have an old book of Harriet Tubman that my dad gave me when I was six years old. And the book one night was glowing at me. And it was calling me. I picked up the book. I looked through it. And that is where it began.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

I had gone to Cambridge. And I had met with historians. And I decided I wanted to walk. So I put out a post on Facebook. And about 20 people responded. And that just shocked me. We ended up with seven amazing women that I had never met. Our ages ranged from 35 to 65. We're from very different backgrounds. It's just been an amazing connection and sisterhood that we formed.

Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County. And she ended up on the Broadus Plantation. And that's where she started her route to freedom. So that's the route we took. It was 116 miles. We did 20 miles a day over a 6-day period.

The people in Cambridge were so wonderful that I wanted to do something for them. So I set up a page to make donations for the museum there. And every day, I would just post, you know, we're here. We're there. We now have like 8,000 followers.

People would actually find us along the route. Our first night out, we ended up just outside of Danton. The Brown family, they hosted us for a full dinner. Then we talked and talked. And they were wonderful. I couldn't imagine that people could be so kind.

With regard to safety, initially when we were planning this whole thing, we thought that something could happen to us. You know, we saw some Confederate flags. So we were nervous. But after we started walking and met the Brown family, they just reaffirmed for me that there is far more goodness in the world than evil. And I just thought that Harriet was with us and that nothing bad was going to happen to us. And nothing did.

The last day of our walk was very emotional and very spiritual. We were exhausted. Walking 20 miles a day is not easy. And when we got to the-- once we-- we posed. We took a picture under the sign that said "Kennett."

And I broke down and cried because I was just so emotional and so elated that we had so many people wishing us well, and thoughts of Harriet, of what she went through. She had guns and dogs, slave catchers. And it was just overwhelming. So we all started crying, because we thought, we did this thing. And we're very proud of that.

[MUSIC CONTINUES]

When you retire, you don't think about that stuff. You just want to sit back and get fat and lazy. But I feel compelled. I want to be a part of what I've now coined a "mighty movement." We are walking to freedom and freedom of your mind to be creative and to live the life that you were born to live. That's become our mantra.