Monument and Myth: Commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Harriet Ross Tubman (1822 - 1913) is best known for her role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Most Americans know little of her remarkable efforts during the Civil War as a Union spy, scout, and nurse; her important role in fighting for black equality and women’s suffrage; and her dedicated advocacy for the elderly. She was a committed Methodist, guided by her deep faith to engage the world around her and to act as an agent of change.
Tubman has been and is memorialized through her name, which adorns numerous schools, roads, bridges, parks, and plaques across the United States. She is equally well represented in sculpture. “Monument and Myth: Commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad” focuses on how contemporary artists have depicted the famed freedom fighter in three-dimensional form. This digital exhibit also considers how artists and communities have engaged the mythic Tubman to acknowledge the history of slavery, abolition, and freedom in the public spaces of their towns, cities, and states.
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For a fuller version of this exhibit, please visit: https://www.harriettubmanmonuments.slaverymonuments.org/
Image: James L. Gafgen, Harriet Ross Tubman Memorial, 2006, Bristol Park, Bristol, Pennsylvania. Photograph by Renée Ater.
Written by Renée Ater, May 2018; updated May 2020.