Day of Resilience: Unveiling of Tubman sculpture is Sept. 10 in Cambridge

By Julie Gilberto-Brady Special to Dorchester Banner
Posted 8/31/22

CAMBRIDGE – The Fourth Annual Day of Resilience on Sept. 10 will feature a significant highlight – the dedication of the “Beacon of Hope,” a 13-foot bronze sculpture honoring …

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Day of Resilience: Unveiling of Tubman sculpture is Sept. 10 in Cambridge

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CAMBRIDGE – The Fourth Annual Day of Resilience on Sept. 10 will feature a significant highlight – the dedication of the “Beacon of Hope,” a 13-foot bronze sculpture honoring Harriet Tubman in conjunction with the bicentennial of her birth. The event will also include commemorations; round-table discussions on current events and issues; a Harriet Tubman reenactor; song, dance and poetry performances; Underground Railroad Byway tours; and presentations from renowned historians, as well as Tubman’s descendants.

“This historic event is especially noteworthy because Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed 2022 ‘The Year of Harriet Tubman,’ and our weekend of programming and activities will serve to support and elevate awareness of her legacy and promote greater appreciation of the significant role that she played in Dorchester and U.S. history,” said Adrian Holmes, director of Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation. “It is especially fitting that the heart of the Day of Resilience this year will be the unveiling of the new, permanent sculpture at the Dorchester County Courthouse honoring one of our own – Harriet Tubman.”

The Day of Resilience commemoration and unveiling ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will begin at noon Sept. 10 on the Dorchester County Courthouse lawn and will feature keynote speaker Samuel C. Still III, a descendant of the famous Civil War abolitionist William Still, who was proclaimed “The Father of the Underground Railroad” in his obituary in 1902. Still is credited with helping more than 800 freedom seekers escape slavery.

The new sculpture will be at the location of Tubman’s first rescue – of her niece Kessiah Bowley – and historian Edduard Prince, who is a descendant of Bowley, also will be speaking during the program. Other featured presenters include historian Vince Legette, founder and president of the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation, whose research and work have focused on the Underground Railroad and on the significant contributions of Black watermen to the maritime and seafood-related industries of the Chesapeake Bay, and sculptor Wesley Wofford, who will discuss his work on the sculpture, which is rich in symbolism that specifically reflects Tubman’s connection to Dorchester County.

The public also is invited to participate in related events that are scheduled throughout the weekend of Sept. 9-11, including:

  • The Taste of Resilience on Friday at the newly restored Phillips Packing House. The event, beginning at 5 p.m., will kick off the weekend with reflections, a quilt display, food and entertainment.
  • The Art Awards Ceremony recognizing the students whose winning artwork was inspired by Harriet Tubman. The presentation will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Courthouse.
  • A Drum Processional and Waterside Libations, which will begin with Nana Malaya Rucker-Oparabea leading a walk at 10:45 a.m. Saturday from the Dorchester Courthouse, down historic High Street to Long Wharf Marina, where ships bearing enslaved persons once docked.
  • A Souls at Sea land and on-water libation and remembrance ceremony commemorating the lives lost in the waters along the Middle Passage, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Long Wharf Marina.
  • The Constituency for Africa Ron Brown Townhall Meeting at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Art Bar 2.0. Melvin Foote, CFA founder, will host panelists Ambassador Carlos Dos Santos from The Republic of Mozambique and Ambassador Marie-Hélène Mathey Boo Lowumba, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who will discuss “Mobilizing the Diaspora: Mission Impossible.” The CFA’s mission is to build public and private support for Africa, and to help shape a progressive U.S. policy toward Africa.
  • A Public Art Panel Discussion, “Telling the Stories of Our Communities,” at 3:30 p.m. at the Dorchester Center for the Arts. Panelists and participants include Wesley Wofford, who created the new Tubman sculpture “Beacon of Hope”; Michael Rosato, who designed the Harriet Tubman “Take My Hand” mural; Miriam Moran, who designed the Black Lives Matter mural on Cambridge’s Race Street; Bridget Cimino, who designed the new Dorchester Women’s Mural; Sydnei SmithJordan, whose art pieces are a part of the permanent collection with the Harriet Tubman Museum of Cape May, N.J.; and Liesel Fenner, public art director for the Maryland State Arts Council. The panel moderator will be Jon West-Bey, independent curator and museum consultant, who is on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Activities in Downtown Cambridge throughout Saturday afternoon, including a Vendor Market at Cannery Way with food trucks, handmade goods, music and kids’ activities, such as face painting and clay sculpting. Chesapeake College will be hosting its annual crab sale to support the C. Gibson Memorial Scholarship Fund. Free movie screenings at the Escape Room on Race Street with local films revealing the unique history of Cambridge and Dorchester County, including “You Don’t Know Nuthin’ ‘Bout Groove City” and “The Voices of Indiantown,” as well as shorts from Dorchester County Tourism.
  • Jazz at the Mural featuring the Eric Byrd Trio will be begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at the “Take My Hand” mural. Tickets are required.
  • An Evening at the Beacon of Hope will present the opportunity for an impromptu gathering at the new sculpture where visitors can share a poem, a song or uplifting words from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday.
  • Jazz Brunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday at the Art Bar 2.0. Tickets are required.
  • Dinner and a play, “Harriet Tubman Fights for Freedom,” at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Art Bar 2.0. Tickets are required.

For more information about the schedule for the Day of Resilience and the weekend events and for tickets, visit the Alpha Genesis website at alphagenesiscdc.org/day-of-resilience-2022.

The Day of Resilience was first held in 2019 in Cambridge to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. That event received gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional citations and received the Outstanding Heritage Project Award from the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area. The event has grown every year since then, and in 2020, the observance was highlighted by the unveiling of a traveling sculpture of Harriet Tubman.

Motivated by the community response to the traveling sculpture, Alpha Genesis led the grassroots drive that raised $250,000 to have the permanent Harriet Tubman statue created specifically for Dorchester County. The unveiling celebration marks the culmination of two years of community grassroots fundraising and activities to create and install the permanent sculpture.

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