Har­riet Tub­man’s spirit car­ried on

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

SANDTOWN, DEL. — With a walk­ing stick in hand, At­lanta res­i­dent Mashona Coun­cil be­gan a 125-mile jour­ney of hope on Sept. 17 in Cam­bridge.

Along the way, Coun­cil car­ried more than food and sup­plies. She car­ried the spirit of Har­riet Tub­man on the same path mir­rored by Tub­man’s first at­tempted es­cape slav­ery for free­dom that started Sept. 17, 1849. Tub­man’s ini­tial at­tempt was not suc­cess­ful. She did suc­ceed in De­cem­ber 1849, when cross­ing from Mary­land into Sandtown, Del.

By Satur­day, Sept. 23, Coun­cil walked along state Route 287 near Golds­boro where she could see the fin­ish line at the Delaware state line. As she ap­proached, a host of friends, fam­ily and

sup­port­ers cheered Coun­cil, each step closer to her goal. When she crossed into Delaware, Coun­cil fell to her knees in tears, and her sup­port­ers gath­ered to pray in unity.

“The spirit of Har­riet Tub­man is home,” Coun­cil said as the group prayed.

Her jour­ney be­gan at the Dorch­ester County Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Cam­bridge and con­tin­ued to all 36 Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road By­way lo­ca­tions in Dorch­ester and Caro­line coun­ties. Coun­cil stopped to camp each night, then con­tin­ued.

After cross­ing into Delaware in 1849, Tub­man re­called there was no one to wel­come her to the land of free­dom.

For Coun­cil, she wanted Tub­man’s spirit to have a warm wel­come, and she got it with the cheers from sup­port­ers Satur­day.

“What has been rest­ing with me to­day is to bring Har­riet’s spirit here, and to have that spirit get wel­comed by oth­ers be­cause Har­riet did not have peo­ple cheer­ing her on when she crossed into Delaware,” Coun­cil said. “It is an honor to have the op­por­tu­nity to be a part of that. This jour­ney has been ex­tremely hum­bling.

“Har­riet did the hard work,” she said. “She did it so we could be free. There have just been amaz­ing peo­ple here along the way. I want to thank ev­ery­one here to­day, on so­cial me­dia, ev­ery­where, for giv­ing me so much sup­port and strength to make this jour­ney. Most of all, thank you to Har­riet Tub­man and God for mak­ing to­day pos­si­ble.”

Coun­cil spent the next hour tak­ing pic­tures and talk­ing with sup­port­ers.

Her friend Theresa Mur­phy could not hold back the tears while talk­ing about Coun­cil’s jour­ney.

“Her mak­ing it to the fin­ish line felt like hope,” she said. “It feels exactly what God tells us it should be. We should have faith in him and him alone, and he would see you through ev­ery sin­gle step. It was a les­son of trust and hope.”

Coun­cil’s jour­ney came in the year the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Vis­i­tor Cen­ter opened in Dorch­ester County. The vis­i­tor cen­ter, lo­cated at 4068 Golden Hill Road in Church Creek near Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, is the 13th stop on the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road By­way.

The 10,000-square foot vis­i­tor cen­ter fea­tures a legacy gar­den and an ope­nair pavil­ion with a stone fire­place. It also houses an ex­hibit hall, gift shop, in­for­ma­tion desk, re­search li­brary and re­strooms. Vis­i­tors be­gin their ex­pe­ri­ence with an im­mer­sive, two- to three-minute au­dio-vis­ual the­ater fea­ture to show a day in the life of Tub­man.

Then vis­i­tors can ex­plore how the land­scape of the Chop­tank River Region shaped Tub­man’s early life, and the im­por­tance of her faith, fam­ily and com­mu­nity. The ex­hibit also fea­tures in­for­ma­tion about Tub­man’s role as a con­duc­tor on the Un­der­ground Rail­road, and her work as a free­dom fighter, hu­man­i­tar­ian, leader and lib­er­a­tor.

“This land is rich in his­tory,” Coun­cil said. “Some­times we take for granted how much his­tory is here, good and bad, and the per­sis­tence peo­ple have shown to over­come ad­ver­sity. It was amaz­ing to go to those places.”

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

At­lanta res­i­dent Mashona Coun­cil sheds tears along with her sup­port­ers after she crossed into Delaware Satur­day, Sept. 23, to com­plete her Har­riet Tub­man Free­dom Walk.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

At­lanta res­i­dent Mashona Coun­cil, yel­low vest, stands with friends and sup­port­ers by the Wel­come to Delaware sign in Sandtown, Del., after com­plet­ing her Har­riet Tub­man Free­dom Walk Satur­day, Sept. 23.

At­lanta res­i­dent Mashona Coun­cil goes to her knee to pray after cross­ing into Delaware on Satur­day, Sept. 23, dur­ing her Har­riet Tub­man Free­dom Walk.

Friends and sup­port­ers wel­come At­lanta res­i­dent Mashona Coun­cil as she ap­proaches Delaware dur­ing her Har­riet Tub­man Free­dom Walk Satur­day, Sept. 23.

At­lanta res­i­dent Mashona Coun­cil, yel­low vest, prays with friends and sup­port­ers in Sandtown, Del., after com­plet­ing her Har­riet Tub­man Free­dom Walk Satur­day, Sept. 23.

At­lanta res­i­dent Mashona Coun­cil ap­proaches Delaware dur­ing her Har­riet Tub­man Free­dom Walk Satur­day, Sept. 23.

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