London, UK - Statue of Boudicca; Boston, MA - Statue of Harriet Tubman
Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, lifts her hands in victory or in challenge. This ancient queen led her people against Rome, even managing to sack and burn Londinium at the heart of Roman Britain. This rebellion had followed Rome’s betrayal of her late husband’s will, which had named the Roman Emperor as well as Boudicca’s daughters as his heirs in an effort to keep the peace. After suffering a flogging and the rape of her daughters, Boudicca began a campaign of revenge which did not end until 80,000 Romans were killed and many Roman cities sacked and burned. Her statue in modern-day London now stands as a reminder of her legend and bravery.
Much closer to home in the South End of Boston, there stands a memorial to another brave woman. The Harriet Tubman Memorial, also known as Step on Board, honors a woman who showed a different kind of bravery. Nicknamed “Moses” for her work in the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman not only escaped herself, but led roughly 300 slaves to freedom over the course of ten years. Neither Harriet nor any she helped escape were recaptured. This was all accomplished while suffering from a head injury which caused sleeping spells from which she could not be awakened. Her statue shows her holding a Bible in front of those she led to safety depicted on a vertical slab. On the back there are various quotes from Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, and Sarah Bradford. There is also a map depicting stops on the Underground Railroad.
Both Boudicca and Harriet Tubman are immortalized in bronze in the heart of two cities that each played an important role in their lives. They faced tremendous odds in order to lead their people to freedom and safety from tyranny, and their courage still inspires us today.
“Facts: Harriet Tubman.” Harriet Tubman Historical Society, www.harriet-tubman.org/facts/.
“Step on Board/Harriet Tubman Memorial.” Boston.gov, Boston Art Commission, 26 June 2019, www.boston.gov/departments/arts-and-culture/boston-art-commission.
Sonia Marks, Student, FSU