Governor Larry Hogan today announced that in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Harriet Tubman and the 5th anniversary of its opening, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center will host a series of free, family-friendly programs during the weekend of March 12 to 13.
“Harriet Tubman dedicated her life in selfless service to others and the cause of freedom,” said Governor Hogan. “This year, as we celebrate her 200th birthday, we hope that even more Marylanders and visitors from across the country will take time to learn about the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad and her years-long struggle to lead countless slaves to their freedom.”
Located near Harriet Tubman’s birthplace in Dorchester County, the park is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and houses an exhibit hall, immersive displays, a museum store, and an information desk. Throughout this celebration weekend and the rest of the year, the park’s expert staff, known as “Team Tubman,” are hosting special programs to honor the life and legacy of the abolitionist and suffragist.
Throughout the month of March, the park will display numerous artifacts from Tubman’s life—many in public for the first time—including the receipt from a midwife for Tubman’s birth, Tubman’s “runaway” advertisement, and items recovered from the site of her father Ben Ross’ cabin, which was recently discovered and excavated by Maryland Department of Transportation archeologists.
Programs and events scheduled for the anniversary weekend include:
Friday, March 11:
7 p.m. – Virtual Premier of “Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad”
This film chronicles the experiences of freedom seekers’ journeys through the wilderness. The documentary film will stream live on Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m at naturesrole.org. The virtual event is free and open to all, though registration is encouraged at bit.ly/RootedWisdomPremiere. A panel discussion with historians and filmmakers will follow.
Following the premiere, the film will be shown in the multi-purpose room every hour at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. throughout the celebratory weekend.
Saturday, March 12:
10 a.m. – Opening ceremony featuring a living history interpretation by Millicent Sparks
11 a.m. – “The Discovery of the Ben Ross Homesite”
Hear from Dr. Julie Schablitsky of the Maryland Department of Transportation about the successful effort to locate and excavate the homesite of Ben Ross. The artifacts are on display for the first time at the Visitor Center for the entire month of March.
12 p.m. – “Foraging Freedom: Experiencing the Natural World of the Underground Railroad”
Join an interactive walking tour with historian Anthony Cohen through the Legacy Garden and adjacent Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Participants should expect to be on their feet and are encouraged to wear comfortable all-weather shoes.
1 p.m. – “Jubilee Voices at Harriet’s House”
Hear the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices during the Tubman 200th festivities. Jubilee Voices is an ensemble that is committed to the preservation of African American history and traditions through songs and storytelling.
2 p.m. – “The Education of Harriet Ross Tubman”
Kate Clifford Larson, a Tubman biographer, discusses the free and enslaved people who helped raise, protect, nurture, and educate Minty to become the woman we know as Harriet Tubman.
3 p.m. – “‘Designing a New Place to Experience History: An Exploration of the Architects”
Listen to Chris Elcock, associate principal of the architecture firm GWWO Inc., as he explains the design process behind creating the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center
Sunday, March 13:
10 a.m. – “Meet Harriet Tubman”
Living history interpreter Millicent Sparks performs as Tubman and shares her monumental life with audience members.
11 a.m. – “The Hidden Chesapeake Through Harriet Tubman’s Eyes”
Kate Clifford Larson, a Tubman biographer, shares about some of the places around the Chesapeake Bay that bear witness to the histories, memories, and legacies of the Underground Railroad and its most famous conductor.
12 p.m. – “The Chronicles of Adam”
A powerful and inspirational first-person historical interpretation of an enslaved man by the name of Adam.
1 p.m. – “The Legacy Hour”
Hear from community members and enjoy musical selections from Renna McKinney as we honor the lives of Donald Pinder and Herschel Johnson. During the second half-hour, become inspired by Tina Wyatt, great, great, great-grandniece of Harriet Tubman as she shares “A Letter to Soph.”
2 p.m. – “The Legacy of Slavery in Maryland”
Chris Haley of the Maryland State Archives presents a general overview of slavery in Maryland, which will include examples of records specifically related to the state and to counties of the Eastern Shore and how both the enslaved and free were affected by the ‘peculiar institution.’
3 p.m. – “Freedom Bound”
Join public historian and historical interpreter Marvin-Alonzo Greer in this family-friendly program with interactive songs and stories.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Commerce, National Park Service, and other federal, state, and local partners will continue to celebrate and highlight aspects of Tubman’s story throughout the year.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center, which has just reached its 5th year of operation, has hosted hundreds of thousands of visitors from 70 countries and territories and all 50 states. This state-of-the-art, green facility is managed in partnership with the National Park Service.