The unveiling will take place on September 10th!
Spy, abolitionist, and suffragist, Harriet Tubman was born Araminta “Minty” Ross and continues to be honored by many all over the world. In New Jersey, her Newark monument replaced a Christopher Columbus statue. In Illinois, a Chicago elementary school was renamed after her while Pennsylvania continues to honor her legacy with a statue in Philadelphia. But her impact nor her history stops there!
In 1822, Tubman was born enslaved in Dorchester County, Maryland. She escaped to Philadelphia in 1849 but, according to the Harriet Tubman Byway, she returned to Maryland 13 times over a span of 10 years to rescue her family and friends. Today, after a long 18 months of sculpting, the freedom fighter and first woman to lead military during the Civil War will be honored with a 13-foot bronze sculpture on September 10th, WBOC reports. The “Beacon of Hope” will illuminate the sky of Cambridge, Maryland. Sculpted by Emmy and Academy Award-winning sculptor, Wesley Wofford, it will be located in front of Dorchester County Courthouse - a former site for slave auctions. At the bottom of the statue, you’ll find symbolic shackles.
Adrian Holmes, the woman who began this project and many others in the area, stated, “We thought it was important to have shackles to say that this place is where people were shackled and auctioned. We can’t “not tell” that story. We can’t “not feel” that pain. We all look at our own lives and the trauma that we experienced in life, but everything that happened to Harriet blossomed in such a positive way that she changed the trajectory of this country.”
Wesley Wofford added, “This collaboration with Cambridge has been so important, unique, enriching, educational, and experimental on how public statues honoring our collective heroes are created; this sort of bridge-building needs to happen nationwide. We’re very fractured on lots of levels, but with public statuary specifically, there’s a big divide. Everyone’s testing the waters as to how to deal with these public spaces of existing objects or untold stories.”
Wofford included easter eggs around the statue to highlight pivotal moments in Tubman’s lifetime and encourages visitors to not only touch the work of art, but to “feel [the statue] emotionally.” "She was the light. Like the people that she was guiding out, she used the North Star to guide herself on her journey to freedom then she became that guiding compass for others," he explains. Below the statue, 800 bricks will be available for viewers to engrave and become a part of this honor.
Adrian Holmes, President of the Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation, claims that the goal of Alpha Genesis CDC is to “use art and culture as a platform for people to find their voice.” According to Holmes, art allows us to have diverse and uncomfortable conversations to bring about healing, reconciliation, and unity within our community. When asked about the current Tubman project, she stated, "The statue is beautiful, but the story behind it and how this community has come together in so many diverse ways to make this happen is unprecedented."
In an interview with WMAR, William Jarmon, President of the Harriet Tubman Organization, said, “I look at it as a part of the history of Dorchester County, and therefore it represents who we were and who we are today.”
Brett W. Wilson, former administrative judge of the Circuit Court for Dorchester County, told AttractionMag, “This is a brick-and-mortar structure that represents justice, and we owe justice and honor to Harriet Tubman.’”
Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, has proclaimed 2022 as “The Year of Harriet Tubman.” This year marks the 200th Anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s birth and the 5th Anniversary of the opening of The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center. The statue unveiling will take place in front of the courthouse on the Day of Resilience, a day established in 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The Day of Resilience kicks off a weekend full of events from September 9-11th! The weekend will include an Art Award Show showcasing students whose artwork was inspired by Harriet Tubman; a Drum Processional from the Dorchester Courthouse to Long Wharf Marina where ships bearing enslaved persons once docked; a remembrance ceremony for lives lost during the slave trade; a public art panel discussion; a small jazz concert and brunch; a town hall meeting; dinner and a play entitled, Harriet Tubman Fights for Freedom.
The heart of the Day of Resilience this year will be the unveiling of the “Beacon of Hope.”
The Day of Resilience commemoration is free and open to the public. This event will be held on Dorchester County Courthouse lawn and will include round-table discussions on current issues, Underground Railroad Byway tours, and presentations from renowned historians and Tubman’s descendants. It will feature keynote speaker William C. Still III, the descendant of William Still. William Still, also known as “The Father of the Underground Railroad,” was a Civil War abolitionist who helped over 800 slaves escape. Other presenters include Founder and President of the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation, Vince Legette, and historian Edduard Prince, who is the descendant of Kessiah Bowley, Tubman’s niece and one of her first rescues.
Harriet Tubman is truly a beacon of hope and light! Nothing was more important than freedom for herself and fellow slaves. She carried her courage and spirit in her heart, and we know it will shine through her statue!
She deserves to continue to be honored, especially in her birthplace. Thank you, Ms. Tubman!