Rhonda Hicks Rucker practiced medicine before becoming a full-time author, musician, and storyteller. Her new historical novel for young readers, Swing Low, Sweet Harriet, is based on Harriet Tubman’s work as a spy and scout during the Civil War when she helped lead African American soldiers on the Combahee River raid in South Carolina.
Rhonda and James “Sparky” Rucker, Rhonda’s husband and long-time performer and writer, will present a program about the story at the Blount County Public Library on Monday, March 17, at 7 p.m.
This author visit will include a mixture of history, storytelling and maybe even a little music. They tell stories of Harriet Tubman, known as the Moses of her people. After her work on the Underground Railroad, she decided to go south once again, only this time as a teacher and nurse with the Port Royal Experiment. It wasn’t long before the Union Army discovered how skillfully she could maneuver behind enemy lines. The officers asked her to work as a spy, determining where the Rebels had planted torpedoes in the Combahee River.
Tubman then became the first American woman to plan and carry out an armed expedition by leading Colonel James Montgomery and the Second South Carolina Colored Volunteers up the Combahee River. She navigated around the mines, allowing the soldiers to destroy bridges, railroads, and other property. This raid by “General Tubman” and her band of mighty men helped to set free over 750 slaves. The story of this remarkable achievement, according to Gullah tradition, led to the writing of a famous song, “Swing Low Sweet Harriet,” better known today as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
Anyone who enjoys a good story will be enthralled by this presentation that includes tidbits of little known history in our nation’s past.
Free and open to the public, the program is sponsored by the Blount County Public Library, located at 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville. For more information about library programs or services, call the library at 982-0981 or visit www.blounttn.org/197.