Here’s my idea: rename Fort Bragg as Fort Harriet Tubman.

Here’s my idea: rename Fort Bragg as Fort Harriet Tubman.

Why? Because she was a loyal & effective US Army Civil War combat veteran, who led troops in a successful raid up the  Combahee River in South Carolina, which freed hundreds of slaves. She also went under cover behind Confederate lines as a spy and scout, again successfully. (All this was in addition to her amazing pre-war exploits on the Underground Railroad.

And not to mention that, in common with so many other war veterans then and now, after the war Tubman was treated shamefully & abandoned by the government she fought to save. She struggled for years to gain a veteran’s pension. When she did the monthly amount was (wait for it): $20.)

If somebody says, “But Tubman’s gonna be on the $20 Bill!” I say: Hey, that’s great, but it hasn’t happened yet, has it??

If and when it does, that AND renaming Ft. Bragg is still only a start toward an adequate recognition of this major league American hero of war & peace. (That’s Tubman as a soldier in the sketch below.) If we’ve got to have a big military base in North Carolina,
“Fort Harriet Tubman” has the ring of truth — and justice— about it.

The following article excerpts expand on this possibility . . . .

Defying Trump, Republican-led Senate panel backs stripping Confederate names from military bases
Patricia Zengerle – June 11, 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican-led U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee voted to require the Department of Defense to rename military bases named after Confederate generals, setting up a clash with President Donald Trump, who opposes that change and promised a veto.

The committee approved the measure, proposed by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, as an amendment to the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a $740 billion bill setting policy for the Pentagon, announced on Thursday.

The committee, with 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats, adopted the amendment by voice vote, which allowed individual members to avoid recording their choice.

However, the panel’s Republican chairman, Senator Jim Inhofe, expressed concern, telling reporters on a conference call he wanted local input on decisions on base names.

Besides requiring that bases stop honoring Confederate generals within three years, the legislation requires the Pentagon to change the names of other assets – such as streets, aircraft and ships – named for Confederate officers or honoring the Confederacy.

Similar efforts to change the names have stalled before, but Americans have become more conscious about race after a series of high-profile killings of African Americans, including that of George Floyd, who died on May 25 as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

As demonstrations have swept the country, cities have removed Confederate statues and institutions have barred displays of the Confederate flag, saying they do not want to honor those who fought to continue enslaving black Americans.

There is a separate movement in Congress, led by Democrats, to remove statues of Confederate generals and leaders from the U.S. Capitol.

TRUMP BLAMES ‘POCAHONTAS’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Is her middle name Harriet?

But Trump drew a line in favor of keeping the names of 10 bases – including the Army’s massive Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia – named for military leaders who battled Union forces during the 1860s Civil War. He threatened to veto legislation changing them.

On Thursday, the Republican president doubled down on his position, attacking Warren on Twitter as a “failed presidential candidate,” and referring to her as “Pocahontas,” a nickname widely seen as racist. He urged members of his party to keep the names of “our legendary military bases.”

“Hopefully our great Republican Senators won’t fall for this!” Trump wrote.

Tubman’s Civil War service was above and beyond all her amazing exploits in the antebellum Underground Railroad. Though she worked very frequently with purportedly nonviolent Quakers, Tubman was no pacifist. And when the war broke out, she was eager to help the Union forces win it. After working with wounded soldiers, she also served as a scout and a spy behind enemy lines.

But she got her big chance after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation at the beginning of 1863.

Soon she was leading a successful raiding party in June 1863 along coastal South Carolina’s Combahee River. The raid captured several plantations, sent the owners reeling, and freed at least 750 enslaved people there. (BTW that was hundreds more in one batch than she managed to liberate in her many Underground Railroad expeditions. More on this below, following a new article excerpt.)

Harriet Tubman, soldier.

Tubman stayed with the army til several months after the war ended. Later, when the Klan and other terrorists waged their wars on Reconstruction, age, health, and care for her aged parents kept Tubman at her northern home in Auburn New York.

Sometimes I imagine that if she had still been unencumbered then, and as vigorous as before and during the civil war, the course of Reconstruction could have been different too. But time gathers us all in.
 
We’ve been hearing about Tubman recently in connection with the plan to put her image on the twenty-dollar bill, which the current administration has vowed to stop. On this I agree with Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, who wrote in May 2019 that
 
“[T]he Trump administration’s recent snubbing of Harriet Tubman in favor of extending Andrew Jackson’s run as the face on the $20 bill is particularly revealing and especially damning.
It is revealing for who is being kept on the money — not only the proud owner of slaves, but also the political author of a vicious white man’s populism. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called the proposed replacement of Jackson “pure political correctness.”
Cynthia Ervio starred as Tubman in the 2019 film, Harriet. Here she takes aim, leading the Combahee River Raid in South Carolina, June 1863.
Actually, the switch would be an example of sound moral judgment. Jackson’s defining cause was the ethnic cleansing of Native American lands to make way for more slavery-based agriculture. In pursuit of his pale-faced vision of democracy, Jackson was imperious, violent and indifferent to constitutional norms. Late at night, if Trump speaks to the portrait of Jackson he has hung on the wall of the Oval Office, I suspect the two men would find much in common.
The most damning part of the controversy for Trump, however, comes from whom he is rejecting. In opposing Tubman, Trump has messed with the wrong woman.”

I would quibble with Gerson here in only one small but not minor respect:  the administration here is messing with the wrong woman United States Army veteran. She was not afraid of blustering, posturing, draft-dodging white men in high places, even those rattling sabers.

A place on the $20 bill is only a start toward an adequate memorial to her courage and service to her country and her people; but a start. Renaming that North Carolina base now under the absurd monicker of a general who was a disgraced failure even to the Confederacy would be another.

Looking ahead, I sure hope Tubman’s spirit is still among us, watching the recent Black Lives Matter upsurge; certainly, her example is. And pretty soon, I hope, you can take that to the bank.

3 thoughts on “Here’s my idea: rename Fort Bragg as Fort Harriet Tubman.”

  1. I saw on the Rachel Madow Show a person who was making Harriet Tubman stamps to put on bill, not defacing, just covering his picture. where can we get these?.

  2. Harriet was a true American Hero, not like all of these anti America Civil war figures. Why would we go to trouble to memorialize them? And not A true patriot like Tubman?

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