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Following Harriet

Harriet film posterHarriet is based on the story of iconic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.

Released November 1, 2019, Harriet filmed in Virginia in fall and winter of 2018, spending time in Richmond, Powhatan, Cumberland, Petersburg, Mathews and several other localities. The project from Focus Features will be the first feature length film to tell the story of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who brought hundreds of slaves to freedom in 19th century America. Released November 1, 2019, Harriet stars Tony-award winning actress Cynthia Erivo, alongside Leslie Odom Jr, Janelle Monae, and Joe Alwyn.

"Following Harriet" is a podcast that takes a closer look at the life of Harriet Tubman, one of the bravest and most extraordinary women in our country's history. Through interviews with leading historians, educators and even the director of the Focus Features film Harriet, it puts the American icon in a broader context and examines the 19th Century experience of African Americans, especially in Virginia.

"Following Harriet" has won the following awards to date:

  • #1 History Podcast & #12 overall Top Show on Apple Podcasts
  • Silver Award, New York Festivals Radio Awards 2020 – Narrative/Documentary Podcast
  • Webby Awards 2020 Honoree – Podcasts: Best Mini Series
  • Award of Merit, PRSA Virginia Public Relations Awards 2020 – New Media and Digital Communications

Subscribe to "Following Harriet" wherever you get your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.).

Episode 1: Becoming Harriet
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Harriet Tubman was so much more than the short history lesson we got about her in school. She was a wife and mother, an entrepreneur, a soldier, a spy, a nurse and an activist who fought for women’s right to vote. In this episode, we explore the most influential and interesting episodes in her life.

Episode 2: The Enslaved & the Virginia Freedom Seekers
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As we learn more about Harriet Tubman, we also get a better understanding of the broader experience for African Americans in the 19th Century. In this episode, we travel to museums throughout Virginia and to the presidential homes of Thomas Jefferson (Monticello) and James Madison (Montpelier) to hear how those stories are being told today.

Episode 3: Harriet's Legacy Today: Strength, Courage & Triumph
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In this episode, we pull Harriet’s story and the story of the African American experience in 19th Century America right through to the present. We talk about why a movie like Harriet, and how it depicts the way she lived her life, is so important to us as Americans at this time.

Episode 4: (Bonus) Musician Rhiannon Giddens on Harriet
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This bonus episode is a condensed version of our interview with Grammy Award-winning musician, artist and activist Rhiannon Giddens, founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. We talk to her about her song "At the Purchaser's Option," her music and Harriet Tubman.

Filming Locations

  • Berkeley Plantation

    The 1726 Georgian mansion is the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence and governor of Virginia. The estate is also the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, ninth U.S. president and ancestral home of his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third president.

  • Southside Railroad Depot in Petersburg

    Situated along the James River and at the confluence of the James and Appomattox rivers, the Petersburg Area played a significant role in our nation’s early days and continues to be a region of great historic, commercial and economic importance.

  • Three Lakes Nature Center

    Three Lakes Park and Nature Center bring together the three worlds of air, water, and land for visitors to explore. The exhibits in the Nature Center will introduce visitors to the plant and animal life native to the area and wildlife living in the wetlands and woodlands of the park.

  • Williams Wharf Landing

    Williams Wharf is a historic boatyard and steamship landing providing public access to Mathews' picturesque East River for engineless watercraft including canoes, kayaks, rowing shells.

Locations Associated with Harriet Tubman

  • Fort Monroe

    Nicknamed "Freedom's Fortress," this Union-held fortification provided a safe haven for thousands of enslaved people during the Civil War.

  • Theodore Roosevelt Island

    This 88-acre bird sanctuary in the middle of the Potomac River is dedicated to our 26th President. Explore 2.5 miles of trails and the Memorial Plaza.

  • Great Dismal Swamp

    Established in 1974, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge consists of over 112,684 acres of forested wetlands in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

  • Pocahontas Island

    Pocahontas Island, named after the legendary Native American princess, is probably Petersburg's earliest predominantly African-American neighborhood. It is a peninsula located on the north side of the Appomattox River within the limits of Petersburg.

  • Richmond Liberty Trail

    The Richmond Liberty Trail is a walking route that connects many of downtown Richmond's historic sites, attractions and neighborhoods. The Trail is but one of several self-guided opportunities to experience Richmond's 400-year history on foot. In Shockoe Bottom, it connects with the Richmond Slave Trail.

  • Harriet Tubman Mural

    A James Thornhill mural in Jackson Ward. This section of the mural depicts Harriet Tubman. Thornhill’s symbolic use of light as hope with her figure is significant to the historically African American neighborhood.

Underground Railroad Locations in Virginia

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Education and Resources

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