Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, 2017.

Op-Ed: A Momentous Day for Preservation

03/13/2017
By Nicholas A. Redding

On Friday, March 10, 2017, the National Park Service officially welcomed a new co-managed unit into the 101-year-old agency’s collection – the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Cambridge, Maryland.

Make no mistake, though, this was much more than just a grand opening event. The construction and opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park was the concrete manifestation of a new school of preservationists and historians who have been diligently working for the past half-century to place the African-American story back in its rightful place.

There can be no accurate account of Maryland history without a re-telling of the toil, commitment and heroism of the African-American people. Harriet Tubman, “the Moses of her people,” is as deserving of a historic site to tell her story as any of our nation’s founders or early leaders. Her story is one that speaks to the essential values of what it means to be an American: struggle, determination, faith, and liberty.

The significance and value of this new National Park unit is that it officially places Harriet’s story – and by extension – the story of her people on equal footing with those historic resources and places on the Eastern Shore and beyond that have long been recognized and honored.

Harriett Tubman highway marker near Buckstown, 2014. Photo from Maryland State Highway Administration.

As an organization tasked with saving our state’s historic resources, we are overcome by the power of this moment and the statements made by our state’s elected officials about the value of telling a more diverse and complete history.

But, if Harriet has taught us anything, we simply cannot rest.

Seizing the positive momentum, we must rededicate ourselves anew to telling these stories in every corner of the state. We must take this moment and find new ways to tell a more complete Maryland history. From Oakland to Ocean City, our goal must be to preserve the very best of our state’s history – and the history of all its people.

This is our charge and our duty. Today, Harriet is leading once again.

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Read more about Tubman’s Legacy in Maryland

Nicholas A. Redding · Executive Director

Nicholas A. Redding is Preservation Maryland’s Executive Director and between announcing major organizational updates, he often blogs about Maryland and Civil War history.

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