By Demetrius Dillard,
Special to the AFRO
In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of her birth, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has officially proclaimed 2022 as “The Year of Harriet Tubman” in his state.
“Today, I’m pleased to announce that we here in the state of Maryland are officially declaring 2022 as the Year of Harriet Tubman,” Hogan said on March 12.
As March is Women’s History Month, the State’s leading political figure made a proclamation paying homage to one of the most prominent Black female trailblazers in Maryland and American history.
Hogan made the announcement in Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center in Dorchester County – the place of the freedom fighter’s birth – to commence a weekend of 200th birthday events reverencing the Underground Railroad’s most well-known conductor.
“Setting aside a day or a month to celebrate Tubman’s birthday and contributions won’t suffice,” Hogan said, expressing how proud he is to have a statue of Tubman in the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis.
“It’s truly inspiring to think about how we can all walk along the same path that she did, where she forged her indelible legacy of freedom. But the celebration of her life should not end this week or this month,” Hogan said, also encouraging Marylanders to visit Dorchester County and travel the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway.
The big announcement for the year of Tubman comes as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center celebrates its fifth anniversary.
“Since opening in 2017, the park has welcomed more than 300,000 guests from nearly 70 countries—despite a lengthy closure and limited capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those visitors, more than 18,000 youngsters have been sworn in as Harriet Tubman State Park Junior Rangers, following activities that teach about Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy, and the importance of the Underground Railroad,” said a statement released by the Maryland Office of Tourism.
“As the birthplace of Harriet Tubman, Maryland is uniquely positioned to celebrate her lifelong achievements and provide visitors and residents places to learn more about Harriet Tubman, her life, and the Underground Railroad. Her stories are told at destinations across Maryland through attractions, special events, curated exhibits, and driving tours,” the statement continued.
The 125-mile-long Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad All-American Road Scenic Byway, which travels across a living land-and-waterscape that closely resembles what Tubman would have experienced in her lifetime, “serves as the perfect vehicle for exploration.”
Baltimore City’s Great Blacks in Wax Museum and Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History serve as additional Maryland attractions with permanent Harriet Tubman exhibits. Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis and the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center in Cambridge also have permanent Tubman exhibits.
Hogan, along with Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Mike Gill of the Maryland Department of Commerce, urged Marylanders to celebrate this bicentennial by patronizing other “immersive exhibits” and structures that the park has to offer, including the Ben Ross cabin site (home of Tubman’s father) and the Tubman Mural in Cambridge.
“It depicts this powerful image of Harriet reaching her hand out with passion and determination to help someone else along the path to freedom,” Hogan said of the mural.
“As we mark the bicentennial of her birth, that I believe, is the true legacy of Harriet Tubman’s extraordinary life and a lesson for how we can pay tribute to her— by looking out for one another and lifting each other up.”
Tina Wyatt, the great-great-great-grandniece of Tubman, was recognized and was presented with the official governor’s proclamation declaring 2022 as “The Year of Harriet Tubman.”
The Maryland Office of Tourism has announced a series of interactive, educational and celebratory events and programs included in the bicentennial tribute that will transpire over the course of the next several months. Anyone interested may visit www.visitmaryland.org or https://www.visitmaryland.org/tubman-200 for more details.
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