2020 Day of Resilience: Tubman’s message celebrated in sculpture

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
From the left, Ja’Mece Molock, Jaden Ferguson, Natale Chester and Janae Keene danced and posed to recreate the image seen in the sculpture.

CAMBRIDGE — There is struggle against injustice, but there is also triumph over adversity.
Organized by Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation, the 2020 Day of Resilience took place Saturday, in honor of African-Americans’ history in Dorchester County and around the nation.

The day-long celebration of Black culture began with the unveiling of a sculpture of Harriet Tubman leading a slave girl to freedom. The statue is on the very spot in front of the Circuit Courthouse where slaves were once sold.
The nine-foot, 2,400 pound bronze sculpture is entitled, “Harriet Tubman: Journey to Freedom.” It is a replica of an original work by internationally recognized artist Wesley Wofford. This sculpture will be a temporary outdoor exhibit at the courthouse on High Street and will remain on exhibit until Oct. 9.

Jermaine Anderson of Alpha Genesis CDC said he learned of the availability of the sculpture from Tashena Fowler immediately following last year’s Day of Resilience. His partner in leadership of the group, Adrian Green, said, “Resilience requires remembrance…In our remembering, we honor.”

One who shared that spirit was Circuit Court Judge Brett Wilson, who said he was pleased with the display.
“I am proud that Harriett is here,” he said, “not a statue of the people who fought to keep her enslaved.”
Enthusiastic applause followed that statement, an apparent reference to Easton’s decision to keep a statue of the Confederate “Talbot Boys” in front of their courthouse.

The statue itself is brimming with symbolism: Tubman reaches back to girl, as Mr. Wofford wants viewers to feel she reaches back for them; Tubman is stepping upwards, leading the former slave out of the depths of bondage; and her billowing folds of her skirt represent the United States flag, which provided freedom for some, and slavery for others.
Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley noted how Tubman stretches out a hand to others, saying it is “time for us to reach back for those who follow.”

Day of Resilience 2020 was organized with support from the Constituency for Africa (CFA), Dorchester County, and the City of Cambridge. Following the events at the courthouse were the CFA Town Hall on Africa; a meeting for the young leaders in Cambridge, the “Youth Ambassadors” and the Bowtie Boys from Houston, Texas, to follow a similar meeting last year, and the trip to Washington in February by a 30-person youth delegation that visited the embassies of Mali, Ghana and Rwanda for briefings; exhibits at the Dorchester Center for the Arts; and a jazz concert at the Harriet Tubman mural in Cannery Way, featuring Washington DC jazz artist Linda Harris.

The Keynote Speaker at the opening ceremony was Founder and President, Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation and CEO Leggett Group USA Vincent Leggett, who shared memories of Tubman’s spirituality.
“She said her God never left her and never failed her,” he said of the woman known as the Moses of her People. “We’re standing on holy ground.”

The audience comprised city, county and state officials, as well as invited guests and local residents. Seating was limited to 80, with social distancing practices observed and temperatures taken before admittance to the grounds.

The finale of the unveiling ceremony included a performance by the award-winning Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble from Camden, N.J. The drummers of this group are experts at the complex, layered rhythms of African music.
The drumming was interpreted by teams of dancers, all of whom wore authentic clothing with the colorful patterns of the homeland. Of all the day’s performances, maybe none was more impressive than the Ensemble’s Moko Jumbies, stilt walkers in the West Indian style seen in Carnival parades, especially in Trinidad and Tobago.

As the opening ceremony approached its conclusion, Judge Wilson recalled the sacrifices of Dorchester County’s most famous daughter.
“She defied death to complete her mission in life,” he said. “Welcome home, Moses.”