Miranda Alexandr, 48, Founder of Caribbean Community in Philadelphia + Social Entrepreneur
By Tiffany Curtis
A few years ago, I first got called a “dark horse” by someone. I wondered what it meant but didn't give it much thought until now.
The story of Harriet Tubman in my estimation is often mistold year round. Her story strongly resonates with me and my journey as an immigrant expat of Trinidad and Tobago to America. Harriet was a “dark horse,” someone who is able to keep their interest, ideas and skills a secret with the surprising ability to become a strong frontline contender and leader.
I admire Harriet Tubman because of her tenacious spirit and sheer determination to rescue her people. I see myself as 'Little Tub' when I weave in and out of our Pan-African Community. The idea of Harriet Tubman being the “Moses of her day” saying, "I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves."
Today, my people are of the African Diaspora. They are Caribbean, African and African- American. Within the wombs of our people, I see the promised land. Many times I see the unhealed places and the open sores of my Pan-African brothers and sisters. I often inadvertently touch those wounded, sore places, of lack of identity and loss of purpose. Within the wounds of our people, I see untapped strategy and collective power to be rescued from the powerful tentacles of White supremacy and cognitive dissonance.
I’ve had people insinuate that because we’re immigrants we don’t belong. It really is a work. There is a way to be free, but the internal struggle is so deep within us.
I learned about Harriet Tubman through the teaching of liberation theology at my church. I also witnessed the real life freedom fighters: my family, the Cecil B. Moore Philadelphia Freedom Fighters and its women tell the stories of breaking down the segregated walls of Girard College in the ‘60s to integrate Black students into an all-white boys school. I learned about their unwavering personal sacrifices and aligned myself with their mission.
"The Dark Horse," in light of Harriet Tubman, speaks of many things: My ability to quickly adapt to my surroundings and adjust my focus during intense periods of frustration in my community and rise above the expectation of others. I look, and sometimes act, nonchalant. But I'm able to work on many visionary plans, always bringing an element of surprise. I work with children daily and have been engaging kids in child development. So, sometimes people don't see the correlation of my professional call with my community organization. Then I have many other loves: human development, advocating for human rights, program development.
My life in America and my journey is intricately involved in Philadelphia and my contribution to it.
I found many untapped parts of me when my life got interrupted by divorce. God gave me incredible strength to rise to the challenge of starting over and navigate an unknown world in America without family (back in Trinidad) and friends.
During that transition, God gave me my first best friend and I was able to launch my community initiatives from UROC (Urban Resources and Opportunities Center) of Philadelphia to Caribbean Community in Philadelphia.
Over the last 9 years, I have explored all these operations and learned slowly all the mechanism involved in building character, community and capacity.
For the last 7 years, I have been personally affected by the words of the Negro National Anthem. Each time I hear the 2nd and 3rd verses, I cry uncontrollably and I have to remove myself or run as far as I can from the singing of it. Even as I’m writing this, I cry.
I will see very vivid imageries and stories of enslaved Africans and the modern-day correlation of struggles I face with my people. I also see the God of my people leading us out of darkness and into the promised land of freedom. After 400 years of slavery, celebrated this year in 2019, this knowledge of Harriet Tubman serves as an impetus to keep believing, keep hoping and praying She put her life at risk, navigating her people, rescuing them as part of the Underground Railroad. We, too, can sacrificially hold space as healers, advocates and defenders of our people.
For two years, I worked with advocates on the front line with "Black Healing Matters," because I believe that we are healers, not just interrupters and disruptors. Our pain draws us to action. We often compromise our own healing at the expense of others. As Black women, we have the innate ability to heal.
Miranda’s Revolutionary Picks:
“The story of Harriet Tubman in my estimation is often mistold year round. Her story strongly resonates with me and my journey as an immigrant expat of Trinidad and Tobago to America. Harriet was a “dark horse,” someone who is able to keep their interest, ideas and skills a secret with the surprising ability to become a strong frontline contender and leader. I admire Harriet Tubman because of her tenacious spirit and sheer determination to rescue her people.”