Tub­man’s spirit car­ries on

Times-Record - - 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 open-air pavil- ion 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.

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