The Sankofa Bird is an Adinkra symbol that characterizes the journey we have traveled to create this book. The West African word sankofa loosely translated means, “go back and fetch it” or “learn from the past.” This symbol speaks to the essence of our work to create a tapestry of the lives of family members that came before us, most notably Harriet Ross Tubman Davis. The image of the Sankofa Bird also reminds us that there is strength in knowing where you came from and upon whose shoulders you stand as free people.
In our family story, we know our freedom was gifted to us by the faith and courage of an American heroine. Harriet Ross Tubman Davis fearlessly sought freedom for her family, for herself, and for her neighbor. There is no greater virtue than being of service to others. The Moses of Her People not only secured the freedom of her family, but she fought for it in the Civil War.
Today, we can all look back at our historical past and appreciate the role she played in liberating our country from the shackles of human bondage. For her descendants, the Sankofa Bird further symbolizes that her legacy lives on.
By Joyce Stokes Jones and Michele Jones Galvin
Descendants of Harriet Tubman tell the story of the famed abolitionist within the context of their family lineage. This creative nonfiction work is an intricate mix of family lore, memoir, and historical reconstruction that captures the life of the Greatest Conductor of the Underground Railroad in a way that separates it from academic works.