BALTIMORE — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today met with the leaders and congregants of AME Zion Church, whose membership included both Harriet Ross Tubman and Frederick Douglass, to discuss the significance of the creation of the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and in Auburn, N.Y.
“Harriet Ross Tubman is nothing short of an American icon and hero. To deliver a new National Historical Park in her honor, one which includes beautiful stretches of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and upstate New York, has been a tremendous experience,” said Senator Cardin. “I was especially grateful to celebrate the new historical park’s creation alongside several generations of Tubman’s descendants, as about a dozen members of the Ross family joined us in Cambridge last weekend. Their personal stories gave me the chance to better understand the living legacy of Harriet Tubman’s sacrifice, deepening my appreciation for the importance of her life and Black History Month alike.
“I can think of few greater examples of bravery and valor about which to teach our future generations. It is fitting that Harriet Ross Tubman will become the first individual woman to have a National Historical Park named in her honor.”
Senator Cardin’s comments on the creation of the new National Historical Park, one of his long-term legislative priorities, came at the 2015 AME Zion Board of Bishops winter meeting, which is being held in conjunction with the international ministers and lay association conference at the Marriott Inner Harbor hotel.
“Harriet Tubman’s legacy is an essential part of the story of America’s evolution from a slave-holding nation into one that recognizes the importance of African Americans, and all peoples, in creating the fabric of our nation. The new Harriet Tubman National Historical Park will help ensure that visitors from across the nation can learn about and celebrate her life’s work,” said Senator Cardin. “It is absolutely fitting that we have the opportunity to celebrate the park’s creation in this month when we are particularly mindful of the contributions of African Americans.”
In 2013, President Barack Obama established the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Dorchester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, setting the stage for National Historical Park designation. The legislation authorizing the National Historical Park’s creation was finalized in December 2014.
Together, the national historical park and monument on the Eastern Shore will preserve the unique landscape associated with Harriet Tubman’s early life and her legacy as the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. It includes significant sites in Harriet Tubman’s life. These include her likely birthplace, the Brodess Plantation parcel, where she worked as a young girl; the Cook Plantation parcel, where as a teenager she worked as a seamstress; and Poplar Neck plantation, where Harriet Tubman escaped slavery in 1849.
The recent legislation honoring Tubman also established another part of the national historical park in Auburn, N.Y., to commemorate the later years of Tubman’s life. This unit includes Tubman’s home, the Home for the Aged that she established, the Fort Hill Cemetery where she is buried and the AME Zion Church where she worshipped.