Sen. Van Hollen an­nounces Tub­man statue ef­forts

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

— U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., vis­ited the Univer­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore cam­pus Mon­day, Feb. 20, to an­nounce plans for a Har­riet Tub­man statue at the United States Capi­tol.

Van Hollen, along with cospon­sor Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., has brought forth leg­is­la­tion that, if passed, would com­mis­sion a statue of Har­riet Tub­man to be erected in a prom­i­nent lo­ca­tion in the U.S. Capi­tol.

“We are get­ting the story out here in Mary­land and across the coun­try, and as part of that ef­fort, we just in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would di­rect the Joint Com­mit­tee on the Li­brary, which

is the com­mit­tee in Congress that is part of the ar­chi­tect of the Capi­tol, to en­ter into an agree­ment with the Har­riet Tub­man Com­mis­sion of Mary­land to com­mis­sion a statue of Har­riet Tub­man to be placed some­where in the United States Capi­tol,” Van Hollen said.

“Har­riet Tub­man is an Amer­i­can hero, and it is an im­por­tant way to honor her in­cred­i­ble con­tri­bu­tions to our na­tion’s his­tory by in­stalling a statue re­flect­ing her work in the U.S. Capi­tol,” he said. “Born in Mary­land, she be­came a con­duc­tor on the Under­ground Rail­road to lead slaves to free­dom, served as a Union spy, and pushed for women’s suf­frage. She was tire­less in her pur­suit of free­dom and pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights, and she rep­re­sents the best in Mary­land and the na­tion.”

Tub­man was born in Dorch­ester County and lived there 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 about 70 slaves es­cape and led them north. Some went as far north as Canada.

Cam­bridge Mayor Vic­to­ria Jack­son-Stan­ley was in at­ten­dance for the an­nounce­ment.

“I was pleas­antly sur­prised with the sen­a­tor’s an­nounce­ment,” Jack­son-Stan­ley said. “I am just ec­static about all that’s hap­pen­ing with the phe­nom­e­non of Har­riet Tub­man. I’m very proud that ev­ery­one is rec­og­niz­ing the im­pact she had on our com­mu­nity and on the na­tion. A statue at the Capi­tol is a big deal.”

Univer­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore Pres­i­dent Juli­ette Bell was ex­cited to host Van Hollen for the an­nounce­ment, made on the steps of the cam­pus’ Fred­er­ick Dou­glass Li­brary.

“Eastern Shore na­tive Har­riet Tub­man led hun­dreds to free­dom on the Under­ground Rail­road,” Bell said. “This pi­o­neer­ing African Amer­i­can wo­man ex­hib­ited courage, grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion to break the chains of bondage, not just for her­self, but for count­less oth­ers.”

The pre­cur­sor to this leg­is­la­tion be­ing in­tro­duced was an ac­tion by the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly in Oc­to­ber 2012.

“I want to thank the Mary­land leg­is­la­ture be­cause a num­ber of years ago, they passed leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate the Har­riet Tub­man Com­mis­sion with the idea that it would com­mis­sion the build­ing of a statue of Har­riet Tub­man to be placed in the United States Capi­tol,” Van Hollen said. “The only way to make that hap­pen is for the U.S. Congress to pass the leg­is­la­tion to al­low that to move for ward. So, that’s ex­actly what this leg­is­la­tion does.

“We tell these sto­ries, not just as a re­flec­tion on the past, but as a re­minder of the chal­lenges our coun­try has faced, and the chal­lenges our coun­try con­tin­ues to face, and to make sure that we con­tinue down the road to build­ing a more per­fect union,” Van Hollen said.

Sen­ate Bill 402 was in­tro­duced on Wed­nes­day, Feb. 15.

“Har­riet Ross Tub­man is noth­ing short of an Amer­i­can icon,” Cardin said in a writ­ten state­ment. “There are few greater ex­am­ples of brav­ery and valor about which to teach our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

“As Mary­lan­ders, we are proud that Har­riet Ross Tub­man was the first in­di­vid­ual wo­man to have a Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park named in her honor and a statue in the United States Capi­tol would be a fit­ting trib­ute to her in­cred­i­ble work and sac­ri­fice that helped strengthen our na­tion,” he said.

The an­nounce­ment comes two weeks be­fore the open­ing of the Har­riet Tub­man Under­ground Rail­road State Park and Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County near Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge.

The state park and vis­i­tor cen­ter, which is lo­cated at 4068 Golden Hill Road in Church Creek, opens to the pub­lic March 11.

The state park is about 17 acres and fea­tures a 10,000-square foot vis­i­tor cen­ter, legacy gar­den and an open-air pav­il­ion with a stone fire­place. The vis­i­tor cen­ter houses the ex­hibit hall, gift shop, in­for­ma­tion desk, re­search li­brary and re­strooms.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Har­riet Tub­man Under­ground Rail­road State Park and Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County, visit dnr2.mar yland.gov/pub­li­clands/pages/eastern/tub­man. aspx.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Eu­nice Lewis Sea­graves per­forms as Har­riet Tub­man dur­ing a Mon­day, Feb, 20, cer­e­mony at Univer­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore on the steps of the Fred­er­ick Dou­glass Li­brary.

Cam­bridge Mayor Vic­to­ria Jack­son-Stan­ley, left, talks with U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., at Univer­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore Mon­day, Feb. 20, be­fore Van Hollen an­nounced leg­is­la­tion to com­mis­sion a Har­riet Tub­man statue for the U.S. Capi­tol.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., an­nounces leg­is­la­tion at Univer­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore Mon­day, Feb. 20, to com­mis­sion a Har­riet Tub­man statue for the U.S. Capi­tol.

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