By Deborah Bailey,
Special to the AFRO
Harriet Tubman’s dreams and visions are an epic part of her story. The abolitionist and underground railroad conductor was said to gain spiritual insight for her multiple travels leading enslaved relatives and friends to freedom, according to Harriet, the 2019 movie biopic about the brave leader’s life.
Washington, D.C.’s Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, described by its founders as a “Black-led abolitionist defense hub,” employs 21st century methods to support the Black community in the D.C. Metropolitan Area. Harriet’s Wildest Dreams is the modern day embodiment of the “dreams and visions” Tubman was widely reported to have that gave inspiration to her bold journeys from the plantations of Maryland to the North.
“We wanted to build a world where we could keep all Black people safe and liberate them at the same time,” said Harriet’s Wildest Dreams co-founder, Nee Nee Taylor.
Taylor, who migrated from a leadership role with Black Lives Matter DC to help lay the foundation for Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, said she did so: “because I felt a higher calling on my life to get my people free…and not just from the police”.
Harriet’s Wildest Dreams focuses on political and community organizing, direct action, legal defense and power-building strategies that challenge repressive systems.
What makes others sit up and take notice of this new organization designed to empower Black lives, is its multi-strategic focus. The organization’s three pillars: Harriet’s Responders, Ella’s Emancipators and Ida B. Free provide a variety of ways for people to get involved in the work to call out, transform and release people from oppressive policies, practices and structures in the Washington Metropolitan area.
“When Harriet was leading folks to freedom along the way, she had many stops,” said Harriet’s Wildest Dream co-founder, Quiana Johnson. Johnson, who is also the founder of Life After Release said the organization’s multiple areas of focus allow the community to respond to oppression from all angles – not limiting them to one approach.
Each of the organization’s pillars centers on a distinct part of the work of supporting issues of justice involving the D.M.V.’s Black population according to Johnson. Harriet’s Wildest Dreams supporters have already engaged in multiple defense actions in the short year since the organization has been in existence including building a support base for supporting the District’s Homeless Encampments on “O” Street NW, in the Fall of 2021, and providing support to Howard University students in their Fall 2021 protests against university administrators over the deteriorating condition of residence halls.
The Meyer Foundation, one of Harriet’s Wildest Dream’s supporting partners described the innovative work that compelled the foundation to choose to take the journey in support of a new entity in the region.
“Just nine months after launching, Black-led abolitionist community defense organization, Harriet’s Wildest Dreams (HWD), has made a major impact across the local Washington political, community, and legal defense landscape,” the site noted.
“HWD builds alternatives to oppressive systems through legal empowerment, political and civic education, mass protest, organizing campaigns, and community care programs,” The Meyer Foundation added.
Now HWD is ready to build on the foundation laid this past year. The organization has already garnered the support of more than 500 volunteers who show up and support activist events in which the group is involved.
Co-founder Makia “Ke-Ke” Green said the organization is at a point where they are inviting like-minded activists and others who want to learn more about the craft and skill involved in professional organizing to join their ranks.
“We are ready to host a running membership,” said Green, coordinator of membership for Harriet’s Wildest Dreams and steering committee member of the Defund DC Police Coalition.
“We want to have hundreds of folks volunteering and at least 100 Black abolitionist organizers in the region,” Green said. “We are inviting people to come in as a supporter or volunteer to help with a specific project, such as serving as a court watcher, or supporting a direct action campaign”, Green added.
Harriet’s Wildest Dreams is also sponsoring a six-week paid organizing fellowship for persons to learn the comprehensive skills involved in organizing complete with peer coaching. The fellowship will prepare participants to move into professional community organizing roles.
Taylor sees Harriet’s Wildest Dreams as a local presence that changes the paradigm for how Black people live in community. While building on the legacy of civil rights organizations founded in the 20th century, Harriet’s Wildest Dreams was born to create a new vision of life for Black people in the D.M.V.
“You can’t know where you are going unless you know where you have been,” said Taylor, paying respect to organizations like the NAACP and Urban League.
“But in today’s world, we want to live in a world that is police-free,” she added.
“We’re fighting to dismantle a system that was never made for us,” Taylor said referencing the nefarious role of law enforcement during slavery and America’s Jim Crow Era.
“We’re building a world where we will be police-free,” Taylor emphasized.
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