Tub­man park, vis­i­tor cen­ter set to open

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

Fe­bru­ary is Black His­tory Month and chil­dren all over Amer­ica are learn­ing about the im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tions African-Amer­i­cans have made to our na­tion’s cul­ture and her­itage.

My own kids have been hear­ing about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights move­ment in school this month. Study­ing the past and tak­ing that knowl­edge and ap­ply­ing it to the present is an im­por­tant les­son we all should have learned in his­tory class.

Our own state, Mary­land, has been home to quite a long list of distin­guished African-Amer­i­can lead­ers and thinkers in­clud­ing Ben­jamin Ban­neker, Fred­er­ick Dou­glass, Thur­good Mar­shall and Har­riet Tub­man.

You may re­call a good bit about Har­riet Tub­man’s life and her rep­u­ta­tion as a fear­less leader tak­ing scores of slaves from bondage to free­dom on the Un­der­ground Rail­road. It’s been quite a few decades since I’ve been in grade school and I have to ad­mit that some of the de­tails of her in­cred­i­ble and in­spi­ra­tional life were get­ting a lit­tle hazy.

But un­like the te­dious (al­beit of­ten nec­es­sary) task of mem­o­riz­ing names and dates for a school as­sign­ment, once you get a lit­tle “on” in years, brush­ing up on his­tory can be such a pleas­ant sur­prise the sec­ond time around. A lit­tle life ex­pe­ri­ence un­der your belt of­ten helps to make the de­tails of the past so mean­ing­ful to our lives to­day.

Now is a ver y good time for a re­fresher course on the life and legacy of Har­riet Tub­man be­cause, in just a few short weeks, the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Park and Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, lo­cated in Dorch­ester County, will fi­nally open its doors af­ter four long years of plan­ning and con­struc­tion.

On March 11 and 12, spe­cial events will take place through­out each day to cel­e­brate the open­ing of the new vis­i­tor cen­ter, called “The View North,” which fea­tures ex­hibits high­light­ing Tub­man’s life story and ac­com­plish­ments.

The East­ern Shore is of course quite dif­fer­ent to­day, as 150 years have passed. There aren’t many homes and build­ings from that era still stand­ing to­day, but the land­scape and wa­ter­ways have been vir­tu­ally un­changed the past cen­tury. Vis­i­tors can ex­pe­ri­ence first- hand where she lived and la­bored, and imag­ine what it would be like to risk life and limb in the marshes and forests of the East­ern Shore to self­lessly lead oth­ers out of bondage.

The 17-acre park is lo­cated ad­ja­cent to Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge and there is also a 125-mile Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road by­way nearby. The by­way me­an­ders through the coun­try­side and shore­line of Dorch­ester and Caro­line coun­ties and has stops in no­table lo­ca­tions such as the Buck­town Vil­lage Store and the Brodess Farm. Although no trace of the house where she was born still stands, the view is a re­minder of the suf­fer­ing slaves en­dured while they toiled in the fields.

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