Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed the year 2022 The Year of Harriet Tubman, as it’s the 200th anniversary of her birth. Beginning this month there are opportunities to get involved with honoring Tubman, all culminating in a special statue unveiling during this year’s Day of Resilience in September.
The nation’s most renowned freedom seeker and Underground Railroad conductor, born in Dorchester County, “never ran her train off the track and never lost a passenger.“ In honor of her bicentennial, a new statue will be unveiled in Cambridge.
The inspiration came from the 2020 Day of Resilience, an annual commemoration of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. There, a 9-foot bronze traveling exhibit depicting Tubman called “Journey to Freedom” was on display. It was created by sculptor Wesley Wofford and was only on display at the Dorchester County Courthouse for 30 days. Its impact was profound.
“People left their cars and ran over to take pictures and touch it,” recalls Adrian Holmes, Founder and Program Director of Alpha Genesis, a community cultural organization that has had a hand in major events honoring Tubman in Dorchester County. Together with other community partners, the organization launched the Harriet’s Journey Home effort to create a permanent tribute to Tubman on the courthouse grounds. Seventh grade students at nearby Mace’s Lane Middle School echoed the sentiment, asking, “Why can’t we get our own [statue]?”
The students took their commitment one step further by writing and illustrating Discovering Harriet, a book that raised funds for the proposed permanent sculpture. This all-hands-on-deck collective energy resulted in the creation of “The Beacon of Hope”, an 11-foot bronze sculpture of Tubman, also created by Wofford, depicting her journey of transformation from Araminta Ross to Harriet Tubman.
In describing the weeks leading up to the unveiling, Holmes says, “This has been a two-year journey and we’re in the home stretch.” Here’s how you can help and participate, before, during, and after Harriet comes home.
Volunteer to Help
Organizers expect more than 1,000 people from across the region and welcome volunteers to lend a hand. To sign up, contact alphagenesiscdc.org/contact-us
Buy a Brick
Purchase an engraved brick that will surround the plaza. “You can leave a legacy for your children to say where you found yourself on this side of history.”
Those interested in purchasing a brick can do so here: bricksrus.com/donorsite/harrietsjourneyhome
July 21-24, 2022
A bus will leave Cambridge to join groups of cyclists from around the country in Auburn, New York. The riders are gathering to see the traveling Journey to Freedom sculpture installed in its permanent home on the grounds of the Tubman Home for the Aged in Auburn, where she passed away in 1913. Contact Alpha Genesis to particiate.
Souls at Sea
September 10, 2022
Join the Universal Sailing Club for the land and/or water portion of their ceremony to honor the enslaved who lost their lives during the Middle Passage. “It’s a wonderful dovetail for us to have our event on the Day of Resilience,” says Regina Hartsfield, co-founder of the event. After the unveiling of the statues, the group will form a mini procession to Long Wharf Marina where they can take part in the blessing of the captains and boats. For those who wish to participate in the on-water ceremony, boats will leave the marina for a designated location on the Choptank where a libation and remembrance ceremony will take place.
For information email [email protected]
Purchase Discovering Harriet
This book, authored by seventh-grade students of Mace’s Lane MIddle school, is written from their experiences in learning about the statue and their part in bringing a permanent sculpture to the Dorchester County Courthouse. Charles Ross, a direct Tubman descendant, created the cover art. Participating students wrote the text and created illustrations.
Bike the Underground Railroad
October 15, 2022
This fundraising bike ride follows part of the Underground Railroad with stops at historic sites. Funds raised through the ride will be used for the ongoing maintenance of the statue and surrounding landscape. Learn more here: dorchesterchamber.org/events/details/bike-the-ugrr-8051?calendarMonth=2022-10-01
If you’re unable to participate in any of the events listed above, Adrian Holmes encourages you to simply visit when you can. “Come to the Shore. It’s a community built on love, trust, and hard work. There is so much to learn, to be appreciative of, to be inspired by,” Holmes says.