CAMBRIDGE - To mark 100 years since Harriet Tubman's death, private and public sector supporters of the preservation of Tubman's legacy in her homeland on Maryland's Eastern Shore are launching a centennial celebration in early 2013. Special events are scheduled throughout the year to remember this famed conductor of the Underground Railroad, who led more than 70 enslaved people to freedom, served as a Civil War spy, fought for women's rights and more. Highlights of the Tubman Centennial include:
Artist Mark Priest shares Harriet Tubman series, 10 years in the making
Friday, March 8
Artist Mark Priest has spent more than a decade tracing the routes of the Underground Railroad and researching the life of Harriet Tubman. As part of the Tubman Centennial in 2013, his series of drawings and paintings will be shown at the Museum of Rural Life in Denton - not far from where Tubman likely passed through on her escapes to freedom. Meet Priest at a special opening reception at 7 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the Museum of Rural Life, 16 N. Second St., Denton. Tickets to the reception cost $20.13 and are available at HarrietTubmanByway.org and by phone at 800-522-TOUR (8687). The exhibit continues through August. For more about the exhibit, call the Caroline Office of Tourism at 410-479-0655.
Groundbreaking for Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park
Saturday, March 9
Ground will be broken on the 17-acre state park near Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County at 10 a.m. March 9. The park will consist of a 15,000-square-foot Visitor Center, exhibit hall and theater, memorial garden and trails, a picnic pavilion, restroom and administrative offices. The park will offer a landscape of marshes, woodlands and fields that are reminiscent of the backdrop for Harriet Tubman's early life on the Eastern Shore. The morning also will include a ribbon cutting for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a 125-mile, self-guided driving tour that includes more than 30 significant sites in Dorchester and Caroline counties.
Tubman Walk with Underground Railroad Expert Tony Cohen
Saturday, March 9
As part of the annual Eagle Festival at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Underground Railroad historian Tony Cohen leads a one-mile walk, sharing stories of how Tubman survived her long journeys to freedom. Cohen himself has traveled thousands of miles along the Underground Railroad by foot, rail and boat. The walk begins at 2:30 p.m., and no prior registration is needed. Free. Details can be found at www.fws.gov/blackwater or by calling 410-228-2677.
Harriet Tubman Banquet honors an American hero
Saturday, March 9
Join in this annual banquet, hosted by the Harriet Tubman Museum, run completely by volunteers. This year's guest speaker is Underground Railroad historian Clara Small. Acclaimed jazz musician Marcus Shelby will provide music. The buffet dinner begins at 4 p.m. at Governor's Hall at Sailwinds Park, 200 Byrn St. in Cambridge. Harriet Tubman was born just a few miles from the banquet site. Tickets to the Harriet Tubman Banquet cost $50. Proceeds benefit the Harriet Tubman Museum. Tickets are available at HarrietTubmanByway.org or by phone at 800-522-TOUR (8687).
Jazz musician Marcus Shelby brings Tubman tribute to Cambridge
Sunday, March 10
The Marcus Shelby quartet, featuring vocalist Faye Carol, brings a musical tribute to Harriet Tubman to her homeland of Cambridge. Acclaimed jazz musician Marcus Shelby has created original compositions, re-arranged and re-orchestrated spirituals, freedom songs and blues music that share Tubman's story. The performance begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 10, in the Choptank Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort, 100 Heron Blvd. in Cambridge. Sponsored in part by the Maryland Office of Tourism. Tickets cost $20 per person. Tickets are available at HarrietTubmanByway.org and by phone at 800-522-TOUR (8687).
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway Tours
The self-guided driving tour known as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway allows visitors to explore sites and stories on their own in Tubman's homeland on the Eastern Shore. More than 20 new historic markers, as well as an audio guide and an updated map/guide, will be completed in 2013 to better share Tubman's story along the 125-mile Byway. Request a "Finding a Way to Freedom" brochure at info@TourDorchester.org or go to HarrietTubmanByway.org and click on "Interactive Map." Recommendations for step-on guides for group tours are also available at 800-522-TOUR (8687).
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference
May 31 to June 1
Tubman historians, scholars and fans will gather in Tubman's homeland of Cambridge for this third annual conference, the only one of its kind. The keynote speaker is internationally known genealogist, author and lecturer Tony Burroughs. Throughout the weekend, the wax figure of Harriet Tubman from Madame Tussauds will be on display at Cambridge's Harriet Tubman Museum. For more information, visit TubmanUGRR.net.
Centennial Fall Weekend
October 5 to 6
A major theatrical performance based on Tubman's life, composed by Nkeiru Okoye and produced by the American Opera Projects, comes to Cambridge. More details to be announced at HarrietTubmanByway.org.