Governor Larry Hogan proclaimed September 2022 as the fourth annual International Underground Railroad Month in Maryland. The month acknowledges the significance of the Underground Railroad, and all those involved, for its contribution to the eradication of slavery in the United States and as a cornerstone for the more comprehensive civil rights movement that followed. Maryland also continues to honor 2022 as the “Year of Harriet Tubman” to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Tubman’s birth – she was born in Dorchester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“It’s an honor for Maryland to share the stories of the heroes of the Underground Railroad with the world in every possible way,” said Governor Hogan. “This month, International Underground Railroad Month, is a way to encourage everyone to visit historical sites and attractions and take part in special events, so we can continue to commemorate the visionary freedom fighters and those they rescued.”
Since the tribute month coincides with “The Year of Harriet Tubman” in Maryland, the Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism created a new collection of experiences highlighting the impact the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding waterways had on passengers of the underground railroad called, The Hidden Chesapeake: Slavery and Freedom through Harriet Tubman’s Eyes.
“With nearly 100 sites throughout the state, Maryland is uniquely positioned as the world’s most powerful Underground Railroad storytelling destination,” said Secretary Mike Gill of the Maryland Department of Commerce. “Visiting the museums and attractions and taking part in special activities this month honors the brave men and women who were involved in Maryland’s contributions to free enslaved people.”
Maryland has the most documented successful escapes using the Underground Railroad and the most National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom sites. A range of sites offer permanent Underground Railroad exhibits and experiences, including the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway Driving Tour on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
International Underground Railroad Month events and activities along the Tubman Byway include:
- Underground Railroad Walking Tour. Join a ranger from Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park on a free walking tour around downtown Cambridge and discover the stories of the Underground Railroad and the people associated with Harriet Tubman’s life. (Sept. 3, Cambridge)
- We Walk with Harriet History Walks. Narrated history tours in Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot counties which include walking, sailing, and horse and buggy rides. (Sept. 3 – 5, Sept. 24 – 26, led by Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center)
- Beacon of Hope. A new 12-foot bronze sculpture of Harriet Tubman, created by Wesley Wofford Sculpture Studio, will be dedicated at the Dorchester County Courthouse, a former site of slave auctions and a daring escape to freedom engineered by Tubman in the mid-1800s. The ceremony will take place during the annual Day of Resilience event. (September 10, Dorchester County Courthouse, Cambridge)
- Birding on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. Join Harriet Tubman Tours and Delmarva Birding Weekends for a guided, self-driven tour. Learn about the life and times of the famed freedom seeker and human rights activist known as “The Moses of Her People,” and experience some of the best birding and Bald Eagle watching on America’s Eastern Seaboard. (September 14, October 12)
- Emancipation Day Celebration. Celebrate Harriet Tubman’s decision to self-liberate with programs and activities throughout the day. (Sept. 18, 2022 at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center, Church Creek)
Plan your travels through the Tubman Byway website. Download the free Tubman Byway audio guide complete with new AR/VR experiences. Download the free Tubman Byway Map & Guide. Share your travel highlights on social media using the hashtag #MDinFocus and #Tubman200.
NOTE: The image here shows “Take My Hand,” a mural created by artist Michael Rosato. You can see it at the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center, Stop #5 on the Tubman Byway in Cambridge, Maryland.