The spirit of Harriet Tubman now inhabits Wyman Park Grove, a public space tucked into the northwest corner of North Charles Street and 29th Street in Charles Village. On March 10, the outdoor space was formally renamed Harriet Tubman Grove, honoring the Maryland native, celebrated “conductor on the Underground Railroad,” American hero and internationally recognized champion for women’s rights.
The rededication ceremony for Harriet Tubman Grove was teeming with supporters, dreamers, neighbors and those who fought for years for the removal of Baltimore’s Confederate statues. One such statue was the Lee and Jackson monument, installed at this very site in 1948, and dismantled by the city last August following local and national protests.
“This is the first rededication since our mayor gave flight to four public confederate memorials and today reclaimed in the spirit of the Baltimore community,” said Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, an early supporter of renaming the site. Clarke recently introduced the legislation that was signed into law by Mayor Catherine E. Pugh dedicating Harriet Tubman Grove.
“There are some more things that are going to happen,” said Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, local civil rights activist and one of the original activists behind the push to rename the site in honor of Tubman.
“As I understand, something about North Avenue being named Harriet Tubman Way… something about Pratt Street being named Frederick Douglas Way,” said Cheatham, hinting at specifics in the pipeline to honor Tubman and other Baltimore ‘s/heroes.’
“A community of political organizers and grassroots activists really brought this concept forward,” said Ryan Patterson, organizer for Friends of Wyman Park Dell, the group that will maintain the site. “They gathered more than 300 signatures that they brought to Mary Pat Clarke. We stepped forward happily to support it and were glad to support the grassroots nature of this change.”
Several descendants of Harriet Tubman attended the dedication ceremony. One such attendee was Ernestine Jones Williams who marveled at the turbulent transitions from the removal of Confederate statues months ago; to now, a result in honoring Tubman.
“We are overwhelmed…. Overwhelmed,” Williams said.