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Harriet Tubman Impersonator Shares Reaction To Tubman Biopic

Glynis Brooks is a Harriet Tubman impersonator based in St. Louis.

There’s good reason the U.S. Treasury Department selected Harriet Tubman as the new face of its $20 bill. Tubman lived one of the nation’s most remarkable lives. Born into slavery in Maryland, she escaped by making her way to Pennsylvania — on foot. And then she returned, again and again, to rescue family members and other slaves via the Underground Railroad. 

As a railroad “conductor,” Tubman is credited with delivering 70 slaves from the South to the North. She would later boast that she “never lost a passenger.” Later, during the Civil War, she led an armed river raid that led to the rescue of another 750 slaves.

For the first time, Tubman’s life has been given the Hollywood treatment. “Harriet,” directed by former St. Louis resident Kasi Lemmons, opened last week.

But Lemmons and the team at Focus Features aren’t the first to turn Tubman’s life into art. For three years, Glynis Brooks of St. Louis has portrayed Harriet Tubman in a one-woman show. 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Brooks about her reaction to the new film and her role as a Tubman impersonator:

If you're interested in booking Brooks for a performance, you can email her at storybrooksent@gmail.com or call (314) 339-SHOW.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Tonina Saputo. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.