DCHS hosts Harriet Tubman discussion

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper Brian Joyner, acting superintendent of the Harriet Tubman National Monument, leads a discussion on the Harriet Tubman story and how it is relevant today.

CAMBRIDGE — An interesting discussion took place at the Dorchester County Historical Society last Friday. Brian Joyner, acting superintendent of the Harriet Tubman National Monument, served as host for a discussion on Harriet Tubman and her relevance in modern times.

“Why is Harriet Tubman all over social media these days,” Mr. Joyner asked. “What does she invoke? Why are people suddenly wanting to re-connect with her? There’s something about that story….”
Mr. Joyner’s talk did not begin with another discussion about the well-known legend of Harriet Tubman, and neither did it focus on the often-debated topic of exactly where she was born. “We don’t want people to associate Harriet Tubman with a house. We want people to associate Harriet Tubman with this land,” he said, indicating the whole Choptank region.

He talked about his visit to Blackwater earlier in the day, and the sound of hundreds of geese coming in for a landing. What did Harriet Tubman think when she heard geese like that, which she surely must have, he asked himself. What did she think when she walked this land?

Though she was born into slavery, Mr. Joyner maintained, with all the difficulties associated with that existence, this was still her home, this is where she found family.

“In interviews late in her life, Harriet Tubman talked about how she would like to be free in Maryland, with her family,” Mr. Joyner said. “But she couldn’t, so she had to leave.

“But then she went back to get other people, other members of her family. That’s the key to her story — she wanted to find home, wanted to re-create home. We all want to be around people we know and love, we want to have them with us in some capacity. We want to find home, at least we want to re-create home.”

Mr. Joyner then turned the talk into a discussion of family and family ties to the land where we were born. The audience, a mixture of Anglo and African Americans, participated in story telling about their ties to the Eastern Shore and memories of home. It was an interesting hour to spend, and ended with the pledge by many involved that they would like to continue the discussion on their own.

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