2022 marks what would be abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday. She was born and spent her early life in Dorchester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and the county has just announced a number of events to commemorate her bicentennial and continue preserving her Chesapeake-region history.
On the weekend of March 12-13, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center will hold a special weekend of programming, with details to be announced.
And a new sculpture of Tubman will be installed at the Dorchester Courthouse in Cambridge on Sept. 10. It is already well underway at the Wesley Wofford Sculpture Studio in North Carolina. The new 12-foot, 3,000-pound bronze piece is called “The Beacon of Hope.” Once complete, it will be installed permanently in front of the Dorchester County Courthouse. Stop #3 on the road trip known as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, the courthouse was once the site of slave auctions. It is also where Tubman engineered the first escape, which ended up freeing her niece Kessiah and her children.
“The Beacon of Hope” is starting to take shape in the studio as clay is being blocked in. Wesley Wofford Sculpture Studio says there will be months of refinements and additions to come.
There will also be a sculpture of a less permanent nature honoring Tubman this year: an ice scuplture in her likeness at the Cambridge Ice & Oyster Festival Jan. 28-29.
Tubman was born in Dorchester County and her childhood home is marked on Greenbriar Road in Cambridge. Her father taught her to move around in the dense forests and wild marshlands of the region and forage for food, skills that later aided in escaping slavery and helping others to freedom. After she escaped in 1849, she returned to Dorchester County more than a dozen times to lead her loved ones out of slavery.
In addition to the scheduled events honoring Tubman’s bicentennial, anyone can take on a portion (or all of) the trail marking milestones from her life, with more than 30 sites in Dorchester and Caroline counties, plus more in Delaware and Pennsylvania. Learn more about the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway.
–Meg Walburn Viviano