Author Interview: Harriet Tubman, Alias Moses: Joe's Journey

publication date: Aug 21, 2010
author/source: Carol Montgomery
Harriet Tubman is a super hero or should we say heroine?  Of course she's famous for being a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad and leading three to four hundred slaves to freedom.  But, have you ever heard her stories?  She told her life story to Sarah Bradfor who wrote it all down. "Harriet Tubman, Alias Moses:  Joe's Journey" is one story from Harriet Tubman's life as she told it.  Carol Montgomery created this free Readers Theater script in 2010.  Readers Theater All Year interviewed her in summer 2010.  Here's that brief interview:


RT All Year:  Where did you get the idea for the script?

Carol:  Wow!  We live in Maryland and I've always been interested in the Underground Railroad.  As I began to study it I discovered an amazing book on Harriet Tubman where she was interviewed by the author.  Harriet had been a slave in Maryland, escaped, then led hundreds of slaves to freedom as well as serving the military.  When I read the story of Joe, an escaped slave, I was so blessed, I HAD to share it.


RT All Year:  What resources did you use to write this script?

Carol:  I checked out Sarah Bradford's book Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People from the library. I marked so many pages with sticky notes that I knew I had to write a series on her life so I purchased my own copy.  This book is "an exact, unaltered and unabridged, reprint of the expanded second editions of 1886." The first edition appeared in 1869 by the author Sarah Bradford.  She interviewed Harriet Tubman and printed Harriet's story "for the purpose of raising funds to aid 'the Moses of her people.' ''  Did you get that?  Harriet told the story to Sarah.  Sarah wrote it down and had it printed.  People bought the books.  The money went to Harriet Tubman.  We STILL get to read the book!


RT All Year:  How long did it take you to write the script?

Carol:  Oh, that's a hard question.  I started it and was interupted several times.  I edited it and edited it and edited it.  I don't log hours on these projects.  (Smile.)


RT All Year:  Why did you write the script?

Carol:  Well, when Mrs. Bradford interviewed Harriet Tubman, Harriet told the story of a fugitive slave named Joe.  As I read Joe's story I thought this is really incredible.  In fact, there were so many amazing stories in the book I knew I could not write just one Readers Theater script on Harriet Tubman's life!  "Harriet Tubman, Alias Moses" will be a series of scripts on this godly woman of faith.  "Joe's Journey" is just the first story I worked on.  The story is powerful on so many levels. Joe had a horrible life.  He made up his mind that he would no longer be a victim. Being a godly woman, Harriet helped him on his journey to freedom.  I think sometimes people today think they are victims to their past or their present.  They think things will never change.  For Joe, it all changed with a decision.  Maybe his story will inspire others to change?  Maybe Harriet's story will inspire others to make a difference in someone's life?  Maybe their faith--as Harriet expressed it--will inspire others to check out this God who "sets the captives free."

Personal Story?

RT All Year:  Which story about the script or the process of writing it would you like to share?

Carol:  I can't wait to write more scripts on Harriet Tubman's life, but there are a LOT of scripts still to write!  (Laughs.)  I guess I really want to share the story of the song in this script.  As I read Sarah Bradford's book on Harriet Tubman and got to the story on Joe I thought, "These words remind me of the rhythm of 'Oh Sussanna!'."  So, I did a little research and discovered that indeed 'Oh Sussanna!' was popular then and there are a few renditions of altered words the slaves used for lyrics.  Apparently Harriet Tubman dictated the version she knew to Sarah Bradford.  I put a few links related to the song at the end of the script in the "Curriculum Links"  so others can enjoy this delightful flavor in the story.

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