Tubman’s legacy shines in Cambridge mural

By Elle Wood
Posted 2/20/24

Freedom fighter Harriet Tubman was born and raised in Dorchester County, Maryland, so Cambridge has become a hub for her legacy.

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Tubman’s legacy shines in Cambridge mural


CAMBRIDGE, Md. — Freedom fighter Harriet Tubman was born and raised in Dorchester County, so Cambridge has become a hub for her legacy.

One of its many Tubman fixtures is the “Take My Hand” mural painted on the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center on Race Street.

Michael Rosato, a Cambridge artist, created the facade in 2019, and it greets those on the Harriet Tubman Byway, a self-guided tour around the Eastern Shore to learn about Ms. Tubman’s story.

The mural’s content came about via a meeting in the town to discuss “What does Harriet Tubman mean to you?”

Mr. Rosato said he noted the many ideas that came up, then brought them to life with his painting.

“There was one sketch that I had her kind of waving you into the museum,” he said. “And it hit that the hand was positioned a certain way, making it about that moment that Tubman is giving you her hand to freedom.”

He completed the mural in just two weeks, in between two other projects and after another painter pulled out of creating the artwork.

“What I love about life is that opportunities are present by the greater power, and you never know why they are given and why they happen,” said Mr. Rosato. “It just so happened that I had two weeks off between projects, and the phone call came, and I love the Tubman story and the power of that woman.”

He also believes that public art is a way to get people thinking and to learn the particular story through their own point of view.

“The beautiful thing about murals is that you have a chance, on a large scale, to tell a story to the public that they might not know about,” said Mr. Rosato. “It puts something in the forefront.

“I think this mural did just that because she is such a powerful woman.”

The artist also noted that the work can serve to educate, in a different way than through the classroom and books.

“There is engagement with the art on so many levels that makes it powerful but also educates because it forces you to question why you feel certain ways while looking at the art,” he said.

This is not Mr. Rosato’s only piece on display in Cambridge. Along with “Take My Hand,” he produced “Reflections on Pine,” another mural highlighting African American heritage of the city. It can be found at U.S. 50 and Maryland Avenue, and features Ms. Tubman and other components.

In addition, the Dorchester County Courthouse on High Street displays the “Beacon of Hope” statue, created by Wesley Wofford.

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