Harriet Ann Jacob--My Hero

Topics: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Slavery in the United States Pages: 3 (1242 words) Published: March 10, 2014
In my view, a hero is someone who you admire. You may admire them for their achievement, outlooks in life or maybe just because they are famous. When I think of a hero, I immediately think of someone who is possesses courage, honesty, bravery, selflessness and the will to try. With regards to African American history, the names, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rose Parks, W.E.B. Dubois, and Fredrick Douglas usually come to mind. My hero, however, is a lesser known woman named Harriet Jacobs. She was a fugitive slave, active abolitionist and accomplished author.

Harriet Ann Jacobs was born into slavery in 1813, in Edmonton, North Carolina. At the tender age of six, Jacobs’s mother passed, she fell into the care of her mother’s mistress Margaret Horniblow, who taught Jacobs to read, write and sew. Jacobs’s father died later that year. In 1825, Hornibow died and willed Jacobs to her three year old niece. The girl’s father, Dr. James Norcom, became Harriet’s master by default.

Norcom sexually harassed Jacobs, refusing to allow her to marry, regardless of a man’s status. As a possible scapegoat, Jacobs took Samuel Sawyer, a free white lawyer, as a consensual lover and together they bore two children, Joseph (1829) and Matilda (1833.). Because the children shared Jacobs’s slave status, Norcom used them against her, threatening to sell if she continued to refuse his sexual advances. By 1835, the domestic situation had become unbearable and Jacobs managed to escape, hiding in a crawl space in her grandmother’s house. Jacobs’s grandmother was a free woman who ran a bakery in her home. While in hiding, Sawyer purchased the children and they moved in with Jacobs’ grandmother. She was able to keep watch over her children, literally, through a hole in the floor. Norcom published an advent in the local newspaper: “Ran away from the subscriber, an intelligent, bright, mulatto girl, 21 years age. Five feet four inches high. Dark eyes, and black hair inclined...
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