Photo via: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, who were both born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, are set to be honored with bronze statues in the historic Maryland State House.
The $575,000 contract was approved by the Board of Public Works, who voted 3-0 for the statues of the legendary abolitionists, reports WJLA. The statues of Tubman and Douglass will stand in the Old House of Delegates Chamber.
“The Maryland State House tells the story of our state and our country,” said Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch. “But there has been a critical component missing inside the walls of the State House: the important contributions of African Americans to that story. These statues will fill that missing gap and I’m pleased to see this project moving forward.”
In 1849, Tubman successfully escaped from slavery; however, she not only became determined to live as a free woman, but she was also determined to lead other slaves to freedom. By 1853, Tubman was working with the Underground Railroad, a secret network of safe houses and routes that allowed her to travel from the South to the North more than 10 times, freeing hundreds of slaves.
After escaping to freedom in 1838, Douglass went on to become a prominent activist, author, public speaker and leader of the abolitionist movement. He also started “The North Star” newspaper because he believed that African Americans needed their own paper where they could tell their own stories. The paper became the most influential anti-slavery publication during the pre-civil war period.
Although the contract with the Christmas Company of Sterling, Virginia, is set to have the project completed in a 390-day time period, house delegate R. Julian Ivey has “criticized the contract for not having any minority business participation.”
Ivey said in a letter to the board, “If the state of Maryland is going to honor Ms. Tubman and Mr. Douglass, we need to do it the right way.”