Har­riet Tub­man to be fea­tured on new $20 bill

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

CAM­BRIDGE — The U.S. Trea­sury De­part­ment an­nounced Wed­nes­day, April 20 that the re­design of the $20 bill will fea­ture abo­li­tion­ist and Dorch­ester County na­tive Har­riet Tub­man.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Har­riet Tub­man Or­ga­ni­za­tion in Cam­bridge said they are very pleased with the news.

“We are very very ex­cited,” said Bill Jar­mon, a mem­ber of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s board. “This woman went out of her way to prove that if you have a mis­sion you can ful­fill it. We want to share with the rest of the world who she was and what she did.

There’s no bet­ter way to do that than to put it on some money,” he said. “It is an­other way to share her legacy, along with the Har­riet Tub­man Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park, the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road By­way and the na­tional mon­u­ment.”

“We’ve been wait­ing so long for her to be rec­og­nized. This is a cel­e­bra­tion of a woman whose story con­tin­ues to touch and change lives,” said Charles E. T. Ross, great great grand nephew of Tub­man. “We are fi­nally cel­e­brat­ing her life and work as other coun­tries have for a long time. The na­tional park is go­ing to be a big change. More and more peo­ple are learn­ing about her all the time.”

Tub­man was born in Dorch­ester County and lived here as a slave un­til she was nearly 30 years old. She es­caped slav­ery in 1849, yet risked her life to re­turn to the East­ern Shore many times to help oth­ers in their jour­ney to free­dom. She helped around 70 slaves es­cape and led them north. Some went as far north as Canada.

“It would be a great trib­ute and her ac­com­plish­ments cer­tainly war­rant this recog­ni­tion,” said act­ing Cam­bridge Mayor Don­ald Syd­nor. “I would love to spend that money,”

In 2013, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama es­tab­lished the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Na­tional Mon­u­ment in Dorch­ester County, a pre­cur­sor to Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park des­ig­na­tion.

In 2014, Congress passed a bill to cre­ate Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Parks.

The new park con­tains prop­er­ties in three coun­ties — Dorch­ester, Tal­bot and Caro­line. The Na­tional Park Ser­vice has been al­lowed to ac­quire seven non­con­tigu­ous prop­er­ties that were his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant in Tub­man’s life.

The park will con­sist of 2,775 acres in Dorch­ester County, 2,200 in Caro­line and 775 in Tal­bot.

The par­cel in Dorch­ester County con­tains the home site of Ja­cob Jack­son, a free African-Amer­i­can man who com­mu­ni­cated with Tub­man’s fam­ily mem­bers and al­lowed his house to be used as one of the first safe houses on the Un­der­ground Rail­road lead­ing out of the East­ern Shore.

Other parcels in­clude the site of what is be­lieved to be Tub­man’s birthplace near Madi­son in Dorch­ester County, and sites of the Brodess Plan­ta­tion, where she worked as a young girl, the Cook Plan­ta­tion, where she worked as a seam­stress; and the Po­plar Neck plan­ta­tion, where she es­caped slav­ery in 1849.

U.S. Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski, D-Md., urged the trea­sury de­part­ment to act quickly to im­ple­ment the re­design of the bill.

“It is long past time that a woman be fea­tured on Amer­i­can cur­rency,” she said. “I helped in­tro­duce a bill to honor Har­riet Tub­man on the front of the $10 bill by 2020, in time for the cen­ten­nial of the 19th Amend­ment.”

Mikul­ski was also in­stru­men­tal in the cre­ation of the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Na­tional Park to open near Cam­bridge in spring 2017.

In 2012, Sen. Mikul­ski was given the Har­riet Ross Tub­man Life­time Achieve­ment Award by the Mary­land African Amer­i­can Tourism Coun­cil for her work to pro­mote the life and legacy of Tub­man.

Mikul­ski was key to es­tab­lish­ing a Har­riet Tub­man na­tional mon­u­ment and state park at the Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge in Cam­bridge, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

In ad­di­tion to her abo­li­tion­ist work, Tub­man was a strong ad­vo­cate for a woman’s right to vote and equal rights in gen­eral.

“It’s great to see Sec­re­tary Lew honor Mary­land’s Har­riet Tub­man by mak­ing her the first fe­male to ap­pear on United States cur­rency,” said U.S. Rep. Andy Har­ris, R-Md.-1st. “I ap­plaud the recog­ni­tion of Har­riet Tub­man’s con­tri­bu­tion to our na­tion’s his­tory and I am proud to have joined with Senator Cardin to des­ig­nate a na­tional park in her honor last year.

“Her re­lent­less fight for equal­ity and jus­tice is a tes­ta­ment to her courage and re­solve to im­prove the Amer­i­can way of life,” he said. “Har­riet Tub­man is a role model for all Amer­i­cans and some­one who de­serves to be honored.”

Har­ris joined forces with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., in 2014 to honor Har­riet Tub­man in the des­ig­na­tion of a na­tional park on the East­ern Shore of Mary­land.

“I can think of few peo­ple more de­serv­ing to be fea­tured on the re­designed $20 bill than Har­riet Tub­man,” Cardin said. “A Mary­lan­der from the East­ern Shore, a con­duc­tor on the Un­der­ground Rail­road with a 100 per­cent suc­cess rate, a Union scout dur­ing the Civil War and a cham­pion of the Women’s Suf­frage Move­ment, Har­riet Tub­man is one of Amer­ica’s great­est pa­tri­ots.

“Her like­ness on the new $20 will serve as a con­stant re­minder of the courage and self-sac­ri­fice on which this na­tion was built,” he said. “The Trea­sury De­part­ment’s ini­tia­tive to more ac­cu­rately re­flect the di­ver­sity of Amer­i­cans who played piv­otal roles in our his­tory should be ap­plauded.”

The de­sign of the bill is ex­pected to be re­leased pub­licly in 2020, just in time for the cen­ten­nial an­niver­sary of the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the 19th Amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion, grant­ing women the right to vote.


Har­riet Tub­man is pictured in this photo from about 1885.

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