Tubman legacy to be celebrated

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Adrian Holmes and Jermaine Anderson receive the Dorchester County Council’s support on July 16 for the dedication of the Harriett Tubman Mural on Sept. 7.

CAMBRIDGE — The official dedication and ribbon cutting for the Harriet Tubman Mural, set for Sept. 7, is expected to attract hundreds of participants, including high-ranking officials from African nations. In presentations to the Dorchester County and Cambridge City councils earlier this month, Adrian Holmes and Jermain Anderson of organizers Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation said ambassadors the United States from Namibia, Sierra Leone, Mali and Togo will attend.

The mural dedication is part of a day of events entitled “A Day of Resilience: Return, Reconcile, Reunite, Rejoice. Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of Slavery in America,” being organized by Alpha Genesis and Dorchester Center for the Arts with support from the city and county.
Ms. Holmes, president of Alpha Genesis, told city commissioners on July 22, “We have a tremendous opportunity to begin the steps toward healing and restoration.”

‘Take My Hand’
“We are very excited to officially dedicate the Harriet Tubman Mural, ‘Take My Hand,’ and celebrate the woman who inspired it,” Executive Director of Dorchester Center for the Arts Barb Seese said in a prepared statement. “This painting by Michael Rosato has touched millions of people around the world, and has drawn thousands to Cambridge to see it. The powerful response reflects the relevance of Harriet Tubman’s legacy today, as well as the ability of public art to speak to people of all ages.”

In addition to the ribbon cutting, several related events will be held throughout the day to commemorate the 400th anniversary of slavery in America.

“This promises to be a special day for Cambridge, designed to put the story of Harriet Tubman and the mural into context of the larger story of slavery in America, and specifically on the Eastern Shore, where Harriet Tubman was enslaved,” Ms. Holmes said. “We are so fortunate to be able to host the ambassadors from African nations, have them experience the mural, and engage visitors and the local community in a discussion about U.S./Africa relations.”

During her presentation to the Cambridge City Council, she estimated that 500-1,000 people could be in town for the day of events.

Organizers received the unanimous consent of the county council to begin the celebration with a gathering on the Circuit Courthouse steps, where two of Harriett Tubman’s relatives were once rescued from the auction block.

About the mural
The Harriet Tubman Mural is located behind 424 Race St. on an exterior wall of the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center. The artwork was commissioned by the Dorchester Center for the Arts as part of the Public Art Across Maryland program, with support from the Maryland State Arts Council, Alpha Genesis CDC, The Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center, and Cambridge Main Street. Artist Michael Rosato designed and painted the mural, which was completed on May 20. To learn more about Mr. Rosato, visit michaelrosato.com.

About Alpha Genesis
Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation is a 501c3 company formed in September 2014.

“Our mission is to strengthen strategic partnerships through arts and culture to build a vibrant, thriving community,” a statement from the group said. “We strengthen and enrich our neighborhoods by providing spaces that utilize our community’s unique history and proximity to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway to inspire conversation, embrace and celebrate diversity, and foster economic development. We provide programs that help connect our community through the shared experience of art and culture, working from within the community to build unity where there has been a long history of division.”
Learn more about the group at http://www.AlphaGenesisCDC.org

About Dorchester Center for the Arts
Dorchester Center for the Arts is dedicated to enriching Maryland’s Eastern Shore community through high quality, engaging programming in the visual, literary, musical and performing arts. As the designated County Arts Council for Dorchester, the Center for the Arts is committed to increasing access to the arts by supporting extensive outreach and educational opportunities. Learn more at http://www.dorchesterarts.org/

Community Partners
Constituency for Africa (CFA) — The mission of CFA is to build a base of support for Africa in the United States and throughout the African Diaspora.

“To be effective, this constituency base needs to be well informed and equipped with strategies designed to raise the profile of the many, diverse African nations,” a statement from Alpha Genesis said. “For nearly 30 years, CFA has established itself as one of the leading organizations committed to educating and mobilizing stakeholders throughout the U.S. and the diaspora on important matters pertaining to Africa.”

The Harriet Tubman Museum & Education Center — The museum was started in the 1980s, and is still run by dedicated local volunteers who want to share Harriet Tubman’s story and preserve her legacy. Underground Railroad ‘conductor’ Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County around 1822. “At this small museum in downtown Cambridge — just a few miles from where she grew up — learn of the strength, courage, and determination of this remarkable woman,” the statement said.

Harvesting Hope Youth and Family Wellness, Inc. — Harvesting Hope is a non-profit agency that provides behavioral health services and youth and family development.

“We are one of three groups that partner to host the Underground Railroad Freedom Regatta,” a statement from the group said. “The program teaches African-American youth about maritime trades and recreation. Our second annual event will be on Aug. 2-3. This year, 20 local young people will participate. They will also serve as youth ambassadors for the Day of Resilience and the Harriet Tubman mural ribbon cutting. The youth ambassadors will be available to welcome our guests, answer questions and provide hospitality throughout the day. We believe in empowering our youth. We believe in preparing tomorrow’s leaders today.”

‘My sweet neighbors’
Cambridge commissioners voted unanimously on July 22 to grant a noise variance from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 7 for the Courthouse event.

Arrangements are still being made for the series of celebrations. Commissioner La-Shon Foster said, “In the very near future, we will be scheduling a meeting,” including city officials, to help finalize arrangements.

“We are accepting donations/sponsorship for this event, as this was not a scheduled event on our calendar,” Ms. Holmes wrote in an email to the Banner. “This event is still part of the magic of the mural…and we are flowing Harriett’s spirit!”
As news of the Day of Reconciliation spread, Banner readers shared their excitement.

Christine Todd-Barlow wrote online, “My sweet neighbors make things happen!”

Terry White wrote, “Homegirl is still showing the way!”

Learn more about the ribbon cutting and other events on Facebook, “A Day of Resilience”.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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