Unwavering Courage in Pursuit of Freedom, Wilimington



Along the banks of the Christina River, city officials and citizens of Wilmington, Delaware, celebrate Harriet Tubman and the abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Thomas Garrett (1789-1870) in the Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park. Garrett lived in Wilmington’s nearby Quaker Hill neighborhood and offered freedom seekers refuge in his home. In 2011, the City of Wilmington, the Riverfront Development Corporation of Delaware, and the Riverfront Sculpture Selection Committee commissioned a monument for the park. The three groups argued for the power of public art “to transform how we perceive the places where we live, work, and play; to enliven our public spaces; to awaken our thinking about our history; and to change our communities into environments that invite interaction.”[1]

The City of Wilmington’s Percent for Art Funds provided the monies for the commission. In the “Request for Qualifications,” the Riverfront Sculpture Selection Committee encouraged artists to consider the partnership between Tubman and Garrett and “the commitment and sacrifices they made for the cause of emancipation.”[2] The committee also wanted artists to think about “the importance and necessity of whites and blacks working together on the Underground Railroad to aid fugitive slaves escaping the South in search of freedom in the North.”[3] At the dedication of the monument on October 3, 2012, Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker stated, “. . . Wilmingtonians and visitors alike can enjoy a beautifully executed piece of art while at the same time learning about our City’s heritage—namely our important link to the Underground Railroad.”[4] This claiming of Tubman and the Underground Railroad is essential to Delaware’s heritage tourism.


[1]Request for Qualifications (RFQ)/Request for Proposal (RFP), Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park, Wilmington, Delaware, May 19, 2011, page 5.

[2]Ibid., page 14.

[3]Ibid., page 5.

[4]Jim Weaver, “Underground Railroad Conductor Harriet Tubman and Her Friend Thomas Garrett,” New York Trend NYC, April 22, 2013, accessed August 7, 2018, http://newyorktrendnyc.com/2013/04/22/underground-railroad-conductor-harriett-tubman-and-her-friend-thomas-garrett/.

Harriet Tubman in the Memorial Landscape
Unwavering Courage in Pursuit of Freedom, Wilimington