WingcomLtd’s Tomi Johnson plays

Harriet Tubman at middle school

 Photo by Andrea Whitfield

March 11, 2004, Marietta, GA…As part of an 8th grade Social Studies project on the Underground Railroad, Tomi Johnson transformed into Harriet Tubman at McCleskey Middle School in suburban Atlanta.


Donning a costume she designed and made herself based on colors from a blouse picked out by her husband Kurk and carrying her grandmother’s quilt, Johnson sang Negro spirituals, strung green beans, and gave directions to students embarking on the freedom journey reenactment. 


Students were conducted by their teachers through fields and near streams in the school’s wooded area. Some crossed over the Ohio River (a school roadway) into freedom. Those caught by other students posing as “slave catchers” were directed to the school’s media center to perform further research on the era.


The journey is a yearly lesson for 8th graders at McCleskey started years ago by a Target classroom teacher.  “I really had second thoughts about acting out this role because slavery was such a horrible thing, but when I contemplated the strength and tenacity Harriet Tubman represents, I went one step further and wrote a four-page monologue,” Johnson added.


Johnson, who operates a news service and public relations firm, is also a substitute teacher for Cobb County Schools. A Music major turned to Telecommunications graduate of Indiana University – Bloomington, Johnson starred in several university theater productions and was instructed by Dr. Winona L. Fletcher. 


Johnson began singing on stage at the age of two at Alabama A & M College where her parents were on the faculty.  Her early vocal training is attributed to the Rev. Dr. Henry Bradford, the late Madame Lee from Oakwood College, Lady Tucker, Delbert Bailey and Paul Goggins, all of Huntsville, AL.


“I will forever be indebted to my teachers who guided me along my artistic excursion. Fortunately, I am still using what they taught me,” Johnson concluded.


To contact Ms. Johnson about her availability for school dramatic projects, contact her at



The information in this article is the opinion of the author and, therefore, should not be construed as libelous.