Marchers celebrating Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday hope to shine light on missing Black women, girls

On Thursday, community-based organization Kidz Korna will join women worldwide as they march to commemorate Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday.

The global event, organized by the African American health movement GirlTrek, is a "moving tribute" to the abolitionist. Participants will walk 2.22 miles for "freedom and healing." But the demonstration is also meant to call attention to the plight of missing Black women and girls.

"We hope to continue shedding a light on the missing young girls, especially here in Chicago," said Delece Williams, founder of Kidz Korna and leading organizer for Chicago’s demonstration.


Over the past few years, organizations have been calling attention to the unsolved cases of missing or murdered Black women and girls. In September 2021, The Cook County Sheriff’s Office announced the Missing Persons Project, which focused heavily on missing women – many of whom are Black.

Williams partnered with South Shore muralist Damon Lamar Reed, who has been documenting some of Chicago’s missing women and girls through his Still Searching project.

"This project is about … searching for answers," said Reed. "It’s about raising awareness for the missing women. And it’s also about the safety of women."

Thursday’s demonstration will start at 79th Street and Prairie Avenue at 9 a.m. The location is just steps away from one of Reed’s murals, a profile of Kierra Coles, a postal worker who went missing in 2018.

"I actually painted it over there because that’s a few blocks from where she was last seen," explained Reed.

Williams said Harriet Tubman’s great-great-great grandniece, Rita Daniels, also will join the demonstration virtually from Georgia. She added she hopes to see at least 50 demonstrators for the event and has asked all participants to wear black.

The exact birthdate of Tubman, the former slave who earned the nickname "Moses" for leading other slaves to freedom, is unknown. But the National Park Service places her birth in March 1822.

Cheyanne M. Daniels is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.