Metra Lundy is a personal trainer. As such, a large portion of her life is dedicated to fitness. However, something else makes her tick: her passion and dedication to the late, great Harriet Tubman. A Walk in Her Shoes is Lundy’s story as she pays tribute to the most-famed conductor of the Underground Railroad.
Her goal is to follow in the footsteps of Tubman and simulate her journey to freedom. On this journey, Lundy will learn not only about the history of slavery and the Underground Railroad but about herself, her worth, and the extent of her abilities. This is one woman’s journey toward freedom, and with the famous abolitionist leading the way, it seems the most likely destination.
A Walk in Her Shoes, directed by Selina Garcia, is a touching story, but there’s something that turns me off, and, sadly, that’s the central journey. I appreciate that Lundy, who wrote the documentary, is passionate about undergoing this journey, but I struggle to fully understand the purpose behind recreating Tubman’s route to a better life. Sure, I know that her voyage is meant to reflect more than the trek that Tubman took and extends introspectively to who Lundy is as a person.
“…one woman’s journey toward freedom, and with the famous abolitionist leading the way, it seems the most likely destination.”
But this internal journey isn’t all that engaging, and I’m not sure of its relevance in the grand scheme of Tubman’s legacy. That sounds harsh, and I’m certainly not saying that Lundy is unimportant, but I struggle to find a true connection to this individual. She seems like a genuine person with a heart of gold, but her story is one for another time.
However, what I love about this documentary is the discourse regarding Tubman. The reality is that Tubman is glanced over in public schools. While she is often a focal point of specific social studies and history lessons, they’re a tiny part of the overall curriculum. All that Tubman was and her accomplishments can’t be condensed into those few lessons. A Walk in Her Shoes puts a lot of stock into all that she offered the world. Furthermore, Garcia expresses bits of information that I had never before heard. I’d venture to guess that many others hadn’t heard these things either.
Tubman’s story is compelling, but it often feels that Lundy’s arc is in the way. Her journey is tremendous, and I commend her ability to follow through and achieve her goal (I can’t even imagine the physical toll it must have taken or the tenacity necessary to complete this task). But, there’s a disconnect between both narratives, and now is not the time for Lundy to shine. While Lundy and Tubman’s stories are somewhat relevant to one another, they should be fielded in separate films, apart from one another. A Walk in Her Shoes feels overcrowded as a result of the two parallel accounts, and one tends to drain the other from time to time.
Again, I love the fact that I was able to learn about Harriet Tubman, and I genuinely appreciate what Metra Lundy is attempting to accomplish, but I’m not sure that the two stories marry well. This doesn’t cause me to dislike the film, but it forces me to struggle as I cared for one story much more than the other. At points, I found it challenging to remain focused as a result. However, I believe that viewers will find motivation and inspiration from what Lundy is doing in the right place and at the right time. Overall, A Walk in Her Shoes is entertaining and full of riveting content and information, but the sometimes cumbersome, converging stories occasionally take something away from what is being said.
"…I love the fact that I was able to learn about Harriet Tubman..."