Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center to host grand opening this weekend

A list of events hosted March 11 and 12 at center, in Cambridge and at sites on the Tubman Byway

CAMBRIDGE — The public is invited to the grand opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center March 11 and 12. The National Park Service and the Maryland Park Service have teamed up to provide special family-friendly Grand Opening events and activities at the site and a first look at the new visitor center. It is located at: 4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek. All events are free.

The Visitor Center is the premier feature of the national and state park and includes state-of-the-art, green elements such as bio-retention ponds, rain barrels, and vegetative roofs. It houses an exhibit hall, museum store, information desk, research library, and restrooms. The exhibit features information about Harriet Tubman’s role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and her work as a freedom fighter, humanitarian, leader and liberator.

Events on Saturday and Sunday will include programs with Harriet Tubman Re-enactor Millicent Sparks; Harriet Haikus & Creative Writing Workshops with National Park Service Centennial Poet Laureate Dr. Sonia Sanchez; Historian Tony Cohen of the Menare Foundation leading simulated Underground Railroad journeys around the legacy garden that reveal escape secrets used by Tubman and other freedom seekers.

Park Rangers will provide talks on topics such as why Araminta Ross changed her name to Harriet Tubman, what skills made her a successful Underground Railroad conductor and the importance of community to enslaved people.

Children’s activities will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. both days including “Games Enslaved Children Played,” about the significance and history of games that enslaved children played and create their own piece of art to remember the park’s inaugural weekend. Junior Ranger activities are also available. Participants get a souvenir hat while supplies last.

On Sunday, Tubman biographer, Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, the visitor center’s historical consultant, will present a talk and book signing for Bound for the Promised Land: Portrait of an American Hero. In addition, architect Chris Elcock, of GWWO, Inc., Architects, will present a talk about the hidden symbolism in the Visitor Center building and surrounding landscape.

“The story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad is one that captivates people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Josie Fernandez, acting superintendent of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.

“Harriet Tubman is a true Maryland treasure and who remains relevant to this very day,” said Maryland Park Service Manager Dana Paterra. “Her path to freedom was wrought with peril but she persevered and overcame many struggles to become an American icon.”

Free Shuttles from Cambridge: For visitors coming to the site through Cambridge, free parking and a shuttle system is available at 410 Academy St. From US Route 50 take Maryland Avenue to Academy Street following signs for “Shuttle Parking.” The shuttle will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 11 only. The City of Cambridge is running these free shuttles to the Visitor Center.

The Partnership: The Maryland Park Service and the National Park Service have partnered to manage the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. The new visitor center, recreational pavilion, and legacy garden are located within the 17-acre Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.

Located along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, this location was chosen for the park because the view is preserved by the surrounding Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. With few remaining structures from Tubman’s time in the Choptank River Region, the landscape is a large part of the visitor experience.

For information on how to visit go to www.nps,gov/hatu or dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/pages/eastern/tubman.aspx

Grand Opening events at the Tubman Visitor Center

The following events will take place at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, 4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek. Due to anticipated crowds and parking limitations, a free shuttle will be available from downtown Cambridge between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on March 11 only. The shuttle leaves from the parking lot across the street from Cambridge City Hall, 410 Academy St. All events and the shuttle service are free.

For more information on the grand opening, visit HarrietTubmanByway.org.

March 11

• Meet Harriet Tubman
Re-enactor Millicent Sparks performs her interpretation of Tubman and her monumental life. Discover new aspects of the lady of honor!
Time: 9 to 10 a.m.
Location: Front of the grand opening tent

• Harriet Haikus & Creative Writing Workshop
National Park Service Centennial Poet Laureate, Dr. Sonia Sanchez, presents her award-winning Harriet Tubman haikus and leads a creative writing workshop. Prepare to be inspired and get creative!
Time: 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Visitor center multi-purpose room

• A Walk with Tony Cohen
Historian Tony Cohen of the Menare Foundation leads a simulated Underground Railroad journey. Combining artifacts and knowledge of the landscape, his tour around the legacy garden reveals escape secrets used by Tubman and other freedom seekers. Come along and discover the skills and knowledge such a journey would have required.
Times: 11 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m.
Location: Front of the grand opening tent

• Games Enslaved Children Played
Learn from park rangers the significance and history of games that enslaved children played and create your own piece of art to remember the park’s inaugural weekend.
Time: Noon to 4 p.m. This program is ongoing; feel free to arrive anytime.
Location: Back of the grand opening tent

• Junior Ranger Program
Does your child have what it takes to be a Junior Ranger? Join park rangers for an educational activity and find out. Participants get a souvenir hat to take home.
Time: Noon to 4 p.m. This program is ongoing; feel free to arrive anytime.
Location: Back of the grand opening tent

• Conversations with a Ranger: Talking Tubman
Meet other guests and engage in a ranger-led conversation. Topics include why Araminta Ross changed her name to Harriet Tubman, what skills made her a successful Underground Railroad conductor, and the importance of community to enslaved people.
Time: 3 to 3:30 p.m.
Location: Visitor center multi-purpose room

March 12

• Meet Harriet Tubman
Re-enactor Millicent Sparks performs her interpretation of Tubman and her monumental life. Discover new aspects of the lady of honor!
Time: 9 to 10 a.m.
Location: Front of the grand opening tent

• Bound for the Promised Land: Portrait of an American Hero
Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, the visitor center’s historical consultant, will present her book Bound for the Promised Land: Portrait of an American Hero. Learn new information and hear about her research methods to uncover new facts. Dr. Larson will be signing copies of her book.
Time: 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Front of the grand opening tent

• The View North
Chris Elcock, Senior Associate at GWWO, Inc., Architects, the team behind the design of the Visitor Center will present The View North. Discover the hidden symbolism in the building and surrounding landscape.
Time: 1 to 2 p.m.
Location: Front of the grand opening tent

• Games Enslaved Children Played
Learn from park rangers the significance and history of games that enslaved children played and create your own piece of art to remember the park’s inaugural weekend.
Time: Noon to 4 p.m. This program is on-going; feel free to arrive anytime.
Location: Back of the grand opening tent

• Junior Ranger Program
Does your child have what it takes to be a Junior Ranger? Join park rangers for an educational activity and find out. Participants get a souvenir hat to take home.
Time: Noon to 4 p.m. This program is on-going; feel free to arrive anytime.
Location: Back of the grand opening tent

• Conversations with a Ranger: Talking Tubman
Meet other guests and engage in a ranger-led conversation. Topics include why Araminta Ross changed her name to Harriet Tubman, what skills made her a successful Underground Railroad conductor, and the importance of community to enslaved people.
Time: 3 to 3:30 p.m. Location: Visitor center multi-purpose room

Events taking place elsewhere in Cambridge and along the Tubman Byway celebrating the Visitor Center opening:

Events celebrating the grand opening of the Tubman Visitor Center will happen at some of the sites along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, which spans 125 miles on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and beyond.

• Rarely Seen Artifacts at Bucktown Village Store
March 10 – March 12, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., 4303 Bucktown Road, Cambridge. Personalized tour of store and rare opportunity to see Tubman-related artifacts. Free admission, donations appreciated. Call 410-901-9255.

• View From The Lighthouse: The Underground Railroad
March 10 – March 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., High and Water Streets, Cambridge. Lighthouse open for free tours. Plus talks on the Underground Railroad led by Jim Duffy, author of Eastern Shore Road Trips and forthcoming Tubman Travel Companion: March 11 at 2:30 p.m. and March 12 at 11 a.m. Free admission, donations appreciated. Call 410-463-2635.

• Jazz and Blues Celebrating Harriet Tubman
March 10, 7:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., ArtBar at LivAgain, 317 High St., Cambridge. Evening of food, dance and music with Jazzy Blu. Call 443-477-6442.

March 11, 7-10 p.m., ArtBar at LivAgain, 317 High St., Cambridge. Evening of jazz, blues, pop with Greg Hatza and ORGANization. Call 443-477-6442.

• Community Prayer Breakfast
March 11, 9 a.m. to noon, Refuge Temple Church of God, 800 Robbins St., Cambridge. Morning message and musical tribute by Grammy Award-winning Bishop Marvin Winans. Also featuring vocalist Ayanna Gregory and Master of Ceremonies Sam Ford, WJLA-TV. Book signing with Carole Boston-Weatherford, author of Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Tickets, $30 on eventbrite.com or at Dorchester County Visitor Center, 2 Rose Hill Place, Cambridge.

• Singing and Praying Band of Delaware and Maryland
March 11, 1 p.m., New Revived United Methodist Church,
4350 Smithville, Road, Taylors Island. Performance and documentary on the history and ties to Tubman in south Dorchester County. Free will offering.

• Harriet Tubman Banquet
March 11, 2:45 p.m., Minnette Dick Hall, St. Mary’s Church,
2002 Hambrooks Blvd., Cambridge. Annual dinner celebrating life of Harriet Tubman. Tickets $40. Call 410-228-0401.

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