The year of Har­riet Tub­man

Record Observer - - Opinion -

Back in the early 1960s, when I was an eighth-grader at Eas­ton Jr.-Sr. High School, there was a won­der­ful Amer­i­can his­tory teacher there.

A New Eng­lan­der, her name was Con­stance Bloom­field. She taught his­tor y with gusto and af­fec­tion.

I looked for­ward to her class, par­tic­u­larly when she got to the chap­ters about the Civil War. I was fas­ci­nated by Abra­ham Lin­coln, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Fred­er­ick Dou­glass and, of course, Har­riet Tub­man.

The one thing that would have made those classes even more in­ter­est­ing was if we had been told that Dou­glass was born into slav­ery right here in Tal­bot County and that Tub­man was born in neigh­bor­ing Dorch­ester County.

Those two facts are widely known these days, but for some rea­son they were miss­ing from my class­room. It was my im­pres­sion back in the 1960s that Dou­glass and Tub­man had been ac­tive any­where but on the Del­marva Penin­sula.

To­day, in fact, there is a fine bronze statue of Fred­er­ick Dou­glass on the Tal­bot County Court­house lawn in Eas­ton.

And all sorts of trib­utes to Har­riet Tub­man are planned in the next month.

Un­of­fi­cially, 2017 also has been de­clared the Year of Tub­man.

The new Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County opens in a mat­ter of days.

In ad­di­tion, there are two Tub­man movie projects planned.

Grand Open­ing Week­end for the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Cen­ter in Church Creek be­gins Satur­day, March 11.

And did you know there is a na­tional Har­riet Tub­man Day? It is Fri­day, March 10. The hol­i­day was ap­proved by Congress in 1990, and signed into law by Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush on March 7, 1990.

Har­riet Tub­man — born Ar­minta Ross in about 1822 — was an abo­li­tion­ist, hu­man­i­tar­ian and armed scout and spy for the U.S. Army dur­ing the Civil War. Born into slav­ery in Dorch­ester, Tub­man es­caped and made about 13 mis­sions to res­cue as many as 300 en­slaved peo­ple.

She used a net­work of anti-slav­ery ac­tivists and safe houses, some of them here on Del­marva, known as the Un­der­ground Rail­road. Tub­man later helped abo­li­tion­ist John Brown re­cruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry.

Af­ter the Civil War she be­came an en­er­getic women’s suf­fragette.

In old age, Tub­man was ad­mit­ted to a home for el­derly African-Amer­i­cans that she had helped es­tab­lish. She died in 1913.

As I am sure many of you are aware, there is dis­cus­sion of putting Har­riet Tub­man’s face on the U.S. $20 bill.

If that hap­pens, I hope the like­ness used will be the re­cently dis­cov­ered photo of Tub­man at a much ear­lier age. The photo, to be sold at auc­tion March 30, was taken in the late 1860s, when Tub­man was in her 40s.

Ri­ley is ed­i­tor emer­i­tus of The Star Demo­crat.

George Wright’s oil paint­ing of Har­riet Tub­man was un­veiled Satur­day, Feb. 18, at the Har­riet Tub­man Mu­seum and Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Cam­bridge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.