Tubman park, visitor center set to open
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.