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Rochester

Descendent of Harriet Tubman Celebrates 80th Birthday

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The great grand-niece of one of American history's icons celebrated her 80th birthday in Rochester Saturday. Having made her mark in American history, Harriet Tubman has been known as a slave, activist and even a spy, but to a select few she is family.

Geraldine Copes Daniels and her sister Pauline are two of the oldest living great grand-nieces of Tubman. As Geraldine celebrated her 80th birthday, she thought back to when her aunt first told her about her relation to such a well-known historical figure.

Growing up in Auburn, New York where Tubman lived for 50 years, has left Geraldine with a strong connection to her roots. Stories passed down through the family helps her envision her aunt's ultimate act of bravery leading fellow slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad.

"I feel that she's still with me," says Geraldine.

A feeling that takes over as she often sings the very spirituals Harriet sang, signaling it was time to escape to freedom.

Geraldine and her family have worked hard to keep Harriet's legacy alive. They have already received proclamations from the cities of Rochester and Atlanta to as far as Haiti and Ghana, declaring a specific day each year as Harriet Tubman day.

"I want everyone to know how hard it was for her to become free," says Pauline Copes Johnson, Tubman's Great-Grandniece.

Geraldine says they are working to receive a proclamation from the president for a national Harriet Tubman day. But to Geraldine, freedom came at a price that was very close to home.

"She is the only woman who helped change the outcome of the United States and I'm very proud of her," exclaimed Geraldine.

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