Van Hollen Moves to Bring Harriet Tubman Statue to U.S. Capitol

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Another statue of Harriet Tubman in Manhattan, via Wikimedia Commons

Maryland’s two U.S. senators have championed an effort to bring a statue of freedom fighter and late Maryland native Harriet Tubman into the U.S. Capitol.

On Presidents’ Day, while Marylanders enjoyed the beautiful weather, protested our current president or honored past leaders in their own special way, U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin were in Dorchester County for an honorary Black History Month event. It was there that they announced that Van Hollen has introduced a measure before the Senate to bring a statue of Tubman to the halls of their workplace in D.C.

Tubman was born in Dorchester County and worked as a spy during the Civil War. She’s most well-known for leading dozens of enslaved families from her home area on the Eastern Shore to freedom via the Underground Railroad. She was also a famous champion of abolition and women’s suffrage.

According to the senators’ announcement, the move to memorialize her with a statue in D.C. has been in the works for more than four years. In 2012, Maryland lawmakers passed a measure that created a commission to bring a Tubman statue to fruition. Van Hollen and Cardin’s new federal bill directs a joint committee that manages art in the U.S Capitol to develop an agreement to accept the statue once it’s complete.

“Harriet Tubman is an American hero, and it is an important way to honor her incredible contributions to our nation’s history by installing a statue reflecting her work in the U.S. Capitol,” said Van Hollen in his announcement.

Sen. Cardin joined Van Hollen in announcing the bill. It’s already been introduced in the Senate and read twice in committee, according to the Library of Congress.

Not by mere coincidence, the lawmakers’ announcement comes as a new joint state and national park named after Tubman is set to open on March 10, the anniversary of her death. WTOP reports the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park will be 17 acres and house a visitor’s center, garden and picnic pavilion.

One can only hope the move to further cement Tubman’s legacy on federal property won’t encounter too much resistance. Then again, our new president has indicated he feels shaky about putting her face on the $20 bill, referring to the replacement of Andrew Jackson’s face with hers as “political correctness.” Supporters of the Tubman statue movement may need to brace for another fight to memorialize the creator of the Underground Railroad.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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