This August, more than 70 Harford County youth from the Harford County Boys and Girls Clubs and student organizations traveled with adult chaperones to the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Maryland. Harford County government, under the administration of County Executive Barry Glassman, sponsored the trip to provide local children with an opportunity to learn more about this courageous American hero.
According to PBS and the History Channel, Harriet Tubman (circa 1820 -1913) was an abolitionist who escaped slavery to become the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, an elaborate network of secret safe houses called “stations” and “depots.” Tubman risked her life to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom and was considered such a threat to the slave system that plantation owners offered a $40,000 reward for her capture. The Underground Railroad stretched for thousands of miles through 14 states including Maryland. Harford County is home to several Underground Railroad sites where escaped slaves were provided with food, shelter and money on their dangerous journey to freedom.
Prior to their arrival at the Visitor Center, the children saw a performance by Harriet Tubman reenactor Janice C. Greene at the Bucktown Village Store. This historic country store, now operating as a museum, has been recognized as the site of Harriet Tubman’s first public act of defiance. Ms. Greene enthralled the students as she recounted the historical details of Harriet Tubman’s selfless efforts.
At the Visitor Center, students were provided lunch, took a guided tour of the museum, and completed activities to become Junior Rangers. After the tour, youth from the Boys and Girls Clubs, located in Aberdeen, Bel Air, Edgewood and Havre de Grace, participated in activities about Tubman’s experiences and completed reflective lessons about freedom.
On the ride home to Harford County, the children said that they learned about the importance of helping people to recognize their rights, and that one person can make a difference in the lives of others.