As part of a nationwide tour, a nine-foot sculpture of Harriet Tubman has just arrived in Philadelphia. Entitled “Harriet Tubman, The Journey to Freedom,” the sculpture depicts Tubman bringing a child along with her to escape a life of slavery, a true reenactment of an incident that resulted in her becoming the child’s adopted parent. The piece was sculpted by Wesley Wofford and was unveiled at Philadelphia’s City Hall last week.
As reported by WHYY-PBS, the sculpture will remain there until the end of March, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of her birth in March 1822.
“The installation is more than just an art display,” said Kelly Lee, the city’s chief cultural officer, said to WHYY-PBS. “This traveling monument by sculptor Wesley Wofford represents Harriet Tubman’s courageous journey to free enslaved people. It beautifully illustrates her determination, despite the intense opposition she faced.”
Known as the “Moses of her people,” Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland. She escaped and then helped others of African descent gain their freedom as a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, a network of escape routes and safe houses. She made numerous trips to the South, leading at least 70 persons to freedom, prompting enslavers to post a $40,000 for her capture. She was never captured.
Tubman also served as a scout, spy, guerrilla soldier, and nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War. She is considered the first African American woman to serve in the military. Her life story was memorialized in the 2019 movie Harriet.
Coordinated by the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, the city’s celebration of Tubman spans Black History Month and Women’s History Month. The festival ends at the end of March to celebrate Tubman’s 200th birthday. The sculpture’s tour moves on to various cities in New York state through the end of 2022.