More than 200 Baltimore residents, gathered on Saturday, March 10 to dedicate a section of a park to Harriet Tubman on the 105th anniversary of her death. The site in Wyman Park Dell, formerly home to a memorial to two Confederate generals, has been renamed “Harriet Tubman Grove.” The crowd included local officials and descendants of the abolitionist.
One descendant, Ernestine Jones-Williams, 71, told The Baltimore Sun “We stand on the shoulders of this great woman. We are overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. Thank you, and God bless you.”
A Long Overdue Change
According to The Baltimore Sun the ceremony took place just feet from the empty pedestal where a large bronze double-equestrian statue of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson had stood since 1948. The statue was removed in August after a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia reignited the national debate over what to do with symbols of the Confederacy.
“Means a lot to me. Very happy to see all these people come out and celebrate her day,” resident Kim Williams told CBS Baltimore.
Harriet Tubman Rededication Had Been In The Works
According to CBS News, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removal of all four of Baltimore’s Confederate statues last year.
“We officially asked the mayor of the City of Baltimore to take down the two Confederate statues, and at the time we were asked what did we want in its place and without a doubt, everyone there said this needs to be Harriet Tubman,” community activist Marvin “Doc” Cheatham said.
Tubman was born a slave on Maryland’s eastern shore in 1822 but went on to rescue more than 300 slaves from bondage via the Underground Railroad.
Baltimore Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke told CBS News, “It helps bring the community values to important places and help to weave together the community. This place is really interesting. Since the statues were removed, it has become a gathering place.”