One of the first books I ever read as a child was a biography of Harriet Tubman. Since that day forward, she has remained a personal hero of mine. I was thrilled to discover the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Cambridge, Maryland. Maybe the crown jewel of the museum is a mural designed by artist Michael Rosato. The web became a viral sensation online and is now one of the most photographed sites in the entire state.
Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland sometime during March 1822. The exact date is unknown as birth records for slaves were not often recorded. She was given the slave name was “Minty”. Her childhood was marred in violence. Her strong-willed nature led her to frequent beatings. As a young girl, she suffered a severe head injury when Tubman stood up for another slave being beaten. The slave owner threw a weight and hit her forehead. For the rest of her life, Tubman would suffer headaches, seizures, and even hallucinations. Deeply religious, Tubman would often interpret these hallucinations as visions from God.
As a young woman, Tubman was able to use the underground railroad and escaped slavery and resettled in Philadelphia. The railroad was an escape network that moved slaves to the free northern states. Tubman became a major player in the network first rescuing her family, then eventually leading over 300 slaves to freedom.
During the civil war, Tubman served as a spy and was the first woman in American history ever to lead an armed expedition during wartime. Her raid on the Combahee River plantation would help free over 700 slaves. Tubman received acclaim for her courage and steely determination.
Even after the war, Tubman remained a tireless champion for the rights of the disabled and later the suffragette movement. Retiring to her farm in New York Tubman became an icon for her humanitarian efforts both before and after the Civil War.
The mural was painted on the outer wall of the museum in May 2019. The Cambridge Maryland Museum is just three miles from the grounds of the plantation where Tubman spent her first years. The mural became an immediate sensation. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one mesmerized by the image.