A descendant of Harriet Tubman is speaking out after Kanye West attacked the iconic abolitionist at his presidential campaign rally on Sunday.
During the South Carolina rally, the 43-year-old rap star took a swipe at Tubman, saying she “never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people.” The comments drew sounds of opposition from some in the crowd, but the hip hop billionaire quickly changed the topic without giving further context to clarify what he meant.
In response, Tubman’s great-great-great niece Tina Wyatt told TMZ that West would be a slave were it not for Tubman and other abolitionists.
“If it hadn’t been for people like her, he would still be on that plantation. He would not be able to be out there saying the things he says and he wouldn’t have the money he has because they would have it all,” said Wyatt Tuesday.
Wyatt went on to say that Tubman, who escaped slavery, risked her life to help other enslaved men and women travel north to freedom through the Underground Railroad, which is why she finds West’s remarks offensive. Tubman also fought for the Union during the Civil War.
“I don’t even understand what he meant when he said that ‘she did what she did so they could go work for white people,’ ” Wyatt continued. “I don’t understand what that meant.”
Wyatt went on to say that once freed, African Americans built their own businesses and won elected positions until Jim Crow laws, “black codes,” and racist policies were enacted to disenfranchise Black people.
In addition, she encouraged West to use his massive wealth to “uplift” the black community.
“I don’t know if he’s doing it or not, I don’t know where he’s putting his money,” Wyatt told TMZ. “Put your money into something that will uplift other people,” she said. “Him … running to be president is not one of them.”
At another point during the rally, West had an emotional breakdown, revealing that he and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, almost aborted their daughter, North West, and that his own father wanted to abort him.
Watch Tina Wyatt’s interview on TMZ below.