Harriet Tubman

Source: MPI / Getty

Everyone is talking about the new movie ‘Harriet’ which depicts the life of a real-life superhero who freed about 70 slaves, Harriet Tubman. There are a lot of facts in the movie and some fiction as well. Check out the breakdown here.

Harriet Tubman

Source: Harriet Tubman / Focus Features

According to, who fact-checked with the director of the film, Kasi Lemmons and historian Kate Clifford Larson, who consulted on the film, there were a number of truths and some fluff to make the story more interesting.

Did Harriet Tubman really hire a lawyer to become free? Yes! She earned the $5 and paid for an attorney to investigate an old will that said when Harriet’s mother turned 45, she was supposed to be set free.”  The only part that wasn’t included was that the will said Tubman and her siblings should be set free when they, too, turned 45 – not at the same time as their mother. Under threat of being sold further South, Tubman escaped in 1849, journeying nearly 90 miles to get to Pennsylvania.

Did Harriet Carry Guns? Yes! Tubman carried guns for protection and as intimidation for slaves who may suddenly catch cold feet.

Did Harriet really have psychic visions? Yes and No. Harriet believed that seizures she suffered from being struck on the head at the age of thirteen by an overseer were prophetic visions.

Was Joe Alwyn’s character (Gideon) real? Not really! He did exist and he did take the slaves to the market when he was young but there is no evidence that he chased Harriet.

Were black bounty hunters real? Yes! Black bounty hunters definitely existed. They were free blacks that were offered good money to catch escaped slaves. They were uncommon but did exist and was a problem for the cause.

Did Harriet dress like a man to stay unnoticed? Yes! She had a few disguises. She would dress as a man, an old woman, or a middle-class woman in fine clothes so whites would not suspect she was a slave.

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