When Mashona Council arrived in Dorchester County from where she lives in Atlanta, Georgia, she didn’t expect much attention. Her mission to walk the entire Maryland portion of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway was a personal challenge and a spiritual quest. But her 125-mile “Freedom Walk,” carrying the spirit of Harriet Tubman, inspired thousands as people learned of her quest through social media. She began her walk in Cambridge on Sept. 17, the same day that Tubman attempted her first escape from slavery back in 1849. She finished seven days later as she crossed the line from Maryland into Delaware.
In celebration of the rich African American heritage of Dorchester County, Maryland, the “Slave Dwelling Project Comes to Dorchester” Oct. 13-14 will bring attention to little known county historic structures that once served as dwelling houses, churches or other cultural and utilitarian uses in the lives of African Americans. This project will feature Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project and “Inalienable Rights,” a living history troupe representing enslaved African Americans of the 19th century. Combined participants will sleep overnight at the Bayley House Slave Cabin in Cambridge, Maryland, and then in the Handsell Slave Chamber in Vienna, Maryland.
With an impressive group of partners, the project will also provide an opportunity for the public to have discussions guided by members of Coming to the Table about the history and legacy of enslavement in the United States. The weekend includes multiple events at various sites around the county, discussions led by members of the National Coming to the Table organization, living history re enactors, music and other historic demonstrations suitable for visitors of all ages. Both Friday evening and Saturday events are FREE and open to the public.
- The event will begin Friday evening October 13 with a “Candlelight Remembrance” at the Cambridge Court House and Bayley Slave Cabin. This event will include introductory presentations and live vocal performances based on Negro Spirituals by soloists Karen Somerville and Melissa Wise Slacum. Ms. Somerville has performed widely from New York through Maryland and is best known for her jazz interpretations and historical performances of songs relating to black history. Mrs. Slacum is local to Dorchester and has performed for many years at local events and venues. Guest attending the Friday evening event will be given battery operated “candles” to light as the names of once enslaved individuals are read by both descendants to those enslaved and slave holders. A procession of participants and attendees will proceed from the Court House to the Bayley Slave Cabin at the privately owned Bayley House on High Street, where the event will conclude with more songs and inspirational words. Refreshments will follow.
- On Saturday, Oct. 14, a living history event at Handsell, a historic home undergoing restoration, will feature two presentations and discussions (morning and afternoon) led by members of ComingToTheTable.org. Other planned activities for Saturday at Handsell include presentations by “Inalienable Rights,” an African American living history troupe, representing early African American crafts people, story tellers and food historians.
- The public will have the opportunity to see cooking demonstrations in the Handsell Kitchen over open fire, where both free and enslaved people of color once worked and lived. Jerome Bias will be interpreting an African American cook and demonstrating his talents at the newly restored Kitchen cook fireplace. One reason Mr. Bias sleeps overnight in slave dwellings and cooks at the living history programs is so children and youth will see their ancestors—will see enslaved people—as human beings with fully rounded lives, not just suffering stereotypes.
- Other living history re enactors will include music, storytelling and a 19th century “laundress,” Roberta Perkins.
- Another Highlight of the day at Handsell will be two presentations by Karen Somerville and her group “Sombarkin.” Karen Somerville is a recording artist and producer performing gospel, blues, jazz, R&B, folk, and the arrangements for the acappella trio Sombarkin’ (sum-bar-kin), a group she has organized.
- Two chicks Catering Truck will provide food and drinks at Handsell. The Chicone Village will be lively as representatives from the Pocomoke Indian Nation and Philip Goldsborough, a Nanticoke descendant will demonstrate Native Crafts. Dawn Manyfeathers of the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape will be making Native Fry Bread.
- During the day on Saturday, The Harriet Tubman Organization will escort a morning bus tour of Dorchester County African American historic sites which will begin and end at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center and will include a stop at Handsell for the Coming to the Table talk. The bus tour will help promote Dorchester County Tourism and highlight important African American historic sites.
Slave Dwelling Project Comes to Dorchester is considered an educational event, brought to the public to increase the community’s knowledge of our local history and heritage, historic preservation and the contributions made by little know individuals from the past.
The event is brought to the public by the following Partners and Sponsors: Harriet Tubman Organization, Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance, Slave Dwelling Project, Coming to the Table, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, Dorchester Arts Center, Elks Lodge #223, 106.3 The Heat WCEM FM, Healing Hands Animal Hospital and The Drug Store, Hurlock, MD
For all information go to: www.restorehandsell.org
Heralds of Hope Theater Company presents Harriet Tubman: Defender on Saturday, Sept 16 at 6pm and Sunday, Sept. 17 at 3pm. This is a powerful presentation of Harriet Tubman’s life and journey on the Underground Railroad told in narrative and song. Written and directed by Percy W. Thomas, this one-woman play depicts Harriet Tubman at the age of 50 reflecting back on her childhood memories and proclaiming her future. Through narrative, song, and visual projections, the audience experiences both the pain and elation of Harriet’s being freed from the bounds of slavery, and how she became one of the most famous women in the history of the United States.
The performance happens at the ArtBar at Liv Again, 317 High Street (second floor) in downtown Cambridge, MD. Tickets: For adults, $20 in advance, $25 at the door. For groups, $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For students, $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Buy tickets in advance.
ADDRESS: 317 High St., Cambridge, MD 21613
Harriet Tubman is featured in a new mural near the corner of Maryland Avenue and Route 50 in Cambridge, Maryland. The mural is the newest in a series of murals in Dorchester County, Maryland, where Tubman was born into slavery around 1822.
The mural highlights Cambridge’s rich African-American history, culture and heritage, particularly in the community around Pine Street, which is one of the oldest African-American communities in the country. The 11-foot-by-48-foot mural was created by artist Michael Rosato, whose studio is in downtown Cambridge. Rosato’s work is featured in museums, public spaces and private residences across the country.
The mural includes some of Dorchester’s most well-known citizens — Harriet Tubman, the most famous “conductor” of the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s, and Gloria Richardson Dandridge, a key figure in the civil rights movement in the 1960s — as well as ordinary citizens such as a bricklayer, a barber, and a baker.
“At the center of the mural is Harriet Tubman, who is a symbol of courage, hard work, perseverance, and loyalty to her family and community,” said the mural artist, Michael Rosato. “Everything radiates out from her, from her heart and center.”
The mural is just the beginning of a larger plan to design and develop this corner, which is being considered the “gateway” to Cambridge’s downtown area.
The mural was funded through a grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and the Federal Highway Administration, and is one of a series of murals throughout Dorchester County that are part of the Chesapeake Country Mural Trail. Find out more about the mural trail.
Harriet Tubman re-enactor Millicent Sparks performs at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center on Friday, July 21 at 3:30pm. She gives a powerful, moving, inspiring performance. She also performed during the grand opening of the Tubman Visitor Center in March 2017. Free admission (both to the performance and the visitor center), and there’s no need to reserve a spot.
The Tubman Visitor Center is Site #13 along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a self-guided driving tour that winds for 125 miles through Dorchester and Caroline Counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Find out more about the Byway.
ADDRESS: 4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek, MD
The Underground Railroad wasn’t the only resistance movement to happen here in Dorchester County and Cambridge, Maryland. Fifty years ago, Cambridge was an important part of the civil rights movement.
Reflections on Pine marks the 50th anniversary of civil unrest in Cambridge, following decades of economic and educational segregation. All are welcome to join in a series of events July 20-23 to commemorating 50 years of civil rights, change, and community.
The summer of 1967 was the height of Civil Rights Movement in Cambridge, Maryland. On the evening of July 24, 1967, a fire erupted on Pine Street, the heart of the African-American community. An elementary school, several businesses, and a church were destroyed in the fire. And a community was changed forever. Read more about the history.
All are welcome to take part in the commemorative weekend, designed to serve as an opportunity for dialogue and healing. Events include:
THURSDAY, JULY 20
Thursday, July 20, 5:30-7pm, Chesapeake College, 418 Race Street, Cambridge, MD. Reception will feature a pictorial history of Pine Street and the civil rights movement in Cambridge. Free.
CONVERSATION WITH GLORIA RICHARDSON DANDRIDGE
Thursday, July 20, 7pm. Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort, 100 Heron Blvd., Cambridge, MD. Gloria Richardson Dandridge, who led the civil rights efforts in Cambridge in the early 1960s, will speak about her thoughts and memories of the Cambridge Movement. Free, but registration is required.
FRIDAY, JULY 21
TALK: HISTORY OF PINE STREET AND THE EFFECTS OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT
Friday, July 21, 10am. Dorchester County Library, 303 Gay St., Cambridge, MD. David “Nicky” Henry, author of Up Pine Street and Dr. Peter Levy, author of Civil War on Race Street will give a history of Pine Street, the main artery of the African-American community of Cambridge, and discuss how the Civil Rights Movement effected the community. Free, but registration is requested.
Friday, July 21, 4pm, Corner of Maryland Avenue and Route 50. Help dedicate Cambridge’s newest public mural, which celebrates Harriet Tubman and other prominent African-Americans who lived in Dorchester County.
Friday, July 21, 7-10pm at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort, 100 Heron Blvd., Cambridge, MD. Dinner will honor three individuals that were part of the local civil rights movement — Gloria Richardson Dandridge, Fred Stanley, and current Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson Stanley. Tickets cost $60 per tickets; $400 per table. Buy tickets.
SATURDAY, JULY 22
A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION ON RACE
Saturday, July 22, 12-2pm, Bethel AME Church, 623 Pine St., Cambridge, MD. Conversation will be professionally facilitated and a boxed lunch will be served. Free, but registration is required.
SUNDAY, JULY 23
RACE AGAINST RACISM 5K RUN/WALK
Sunday, July 23, 7am, starts in downtown Cambridge, MD, near the corner of Race and Muir Streets. $25 per person. Register online.
COMMUNITY CHURCH SERVICE
Sunday, July 23, 11am-1pm, Bethel AME Church, 623 Pine St., Cambridge, MD. A partnership with the Ministerial Alliance in an effort to desegregate the most segregated hour in America.
The Choptank River Lighthouse has a new temporary exhibit, “View from the Lighthouse: The Underground Railroad.” Housed on the second floor, the exhibit looks out over the scenes visible in all four directions from the Lighthouse and shows how they relate to the stories of Dorchester Country native Harriet Tubman and other passengers and conductors on the Underground Railroad with local roots in the 1800s. Stories include the arrival of Harriet Tubman’s grandmother, the first escape that Tubman engineered, the escape of Moses Viney, and more. Find out more about the exhibit.
The exhibit will be on view through October 2017.
The Lighthouse is open to visitors daily from 9am to 6pm, May through October; and by appointment only from November through April (call 410-463-2653). The lighthouse is located at Long Wharf Park, near High and Water Streets in Cambridge, MD. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
John H. Miller, PhD, will be the speaker on “Amazing Grace:” Sailing into Slavery, Sailing into Freedom” at the Richardson Maritime Museum on Saturday, June 24, from 1 to 2 pm at 401 High Street, Cambridge, MD. Admission is free.
Miller’s talk is based on research for a course he taught as one of some 35 faculty during the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea program aboard the student ship MV World Odyssey during its four-month 2015 voyage of Atlantic exploration. During this journey about 400 undergraduate students from the USA and abroad took for-credit courses on various subjects while sailing to ports in the Mediterranean, West Africa, and across the Atlantic’s infamous “Middle Passage” to Brazil, and onward to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and ending in San Diego.
We are all familiar with then-enslaved Frederick Douglass’s famous ode to the white sails of vessels on Chesapeake’s Eastern Bay that he hoped would one day sail him into to freedom from bondage in Talbot County. But few of us are familiar with the lesser-known words of then-free Ibo tribesman Olaudah Equiano who later recorded his horror on being captured and then seeing the white sails of a large ship off the Bight of Benin, a ship that would sail him into slavery in the supposed “El Dorado” of the New World.
Miller will discuss the shared experiences that enmeshed all aboard these “Guineamen,” a euphemism for slave ships. From the ruthless, all-powerful captains of these vessels and their motley down-and-out crews to the enslaved African “cargo” held ‘tween decks, all aboard descended into hell. One of these captains was John Newton, a man who later repented of his voyages aboard slave ships, became an Anglican minister, and wrote the world-famous hymn, Amazing Grace. “Whatever ‘amazing grace’ may have come from the international slave trade,” says Miller, “can be found in the even lesser-known and extraordinarily poignant stories about personal post-voyage encounters between slave ships’ crews and their ‘cargo.’” On a more local level, Miller will also explore aspects of the “maritime underground railroad” that operated along America’s mid-Atlantic during the 19th century, including the story of the schooner Pearl.
John H. Miller received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and his BA from Yale College. He currently co-facilitates literature courses with his colleague, John Ford, at the Academy for Lifelong Learning at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where Miller formerly served as Vice President of Advancement.
The presentation at the Richardson Maritime Museum has been planned in concert with the Choptank River Lighthouse, located just down High Street on the waterfront at Long Wharf Park. On the same day as Miller’s talk, the Lighthouse is opening a new exhibit titled, “View from the Lighthouse: The Underground Railroad.”
Housed on the second floor, that exhibit looks out over the scenes visible in all four directions from the Lighthouse and shows how they relate to the stories of Dorchester Country native Harriet Tubman and other passengers and conductors on the Underground Railroad with local roots.
The Lighthouse will be open to visitors on June 24 in the hours before and after “Amazing Grace” at the Richardson Museum. In addition, the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in downtown Cambridge will be open to visitors that day as well. That museum is located at 424 Race Street, just two blocks from the Richardson Museum.
ADDRESS of RICHARDSON MUSEUM: 401 High St., Cambridge, MD 21613
The acclaimed Marcus Shelby Quartet come from California to perform music inspired by Harriet Tubman’s life during a public performance on Saturday, May 20 at 7pm. The quartet will perform “Harriet Tubman and the Songs of Freedom” at Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery, 4225 New Bridge Rd. in Vienna, MD. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and a picnic dinner if you like. Wine will be available for purchase.
The concert will include spirituals and freedom songs, as well music that Shelby composed for his Harriet Tubman suite. Shelby has extensively researched and developed music that pays homage to Harriet Tubman, inspired in part by her use of music to communicate secretly as she led her missions to freedom. Her musical tools included field cries, works songs, and spirituals. Shelby has created original compositions, rearranged and re-orchestrated spirituals, freedom songs and blues songs that illuminate the history and story of Harriet Tubman. Listen to samples of the music.
A fixture of the San Francisco blues and jazz scene, Shelby has been voted best jazz musician by numerous Bay Area publications. His work and music has focused on sharing the history, present, and future of African American lives, on social movements in the United States of America, and on early childhood music education. His quartet also performed in Cambridge, MD, in 2013 as part of the events commemorating the 100th anniversary of Tubman’s passing.
For the 2017 performance, the quartet features Tiffany Austin on vocals, Gaea Schell on piano, Tim Angulo on drums, and Marcus Shelby on bass.
Tickets cost $10 per person at the door. All proceeds from this event benefit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center.
While you’re at Layton’s Chance Winery for the show, try the special commemorative wine the winery created in honor of Harriet Tubman. “FREEDOM” is an off-dry blended red wine made from grapes that were native to the area during the Harriet Tubman era.
The Marcus Shelby Quartet will also perform on Friday, May 19, for attendees of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference. The performance is limited to conference attendees.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is now open in Dorchester County, Maryland! The exhibits inside the center — located just a few miles from where Harriet Tubman was born — share this American hero’s story in powerful and moving ways. This 10,000-square-foot building and its 17-acre park make an excellent launching point for exploring the Tubman Byway, a self-guided driving tour of Underground Railroad-related sites on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The visitor center, which had its grand opening March 10-12, 2017, has attracted much attention — more than 40 media outlets were on hand to cover the opening! (See highlights of the media coverage.) The Tubman Visitor Center is open daily for self-guided tours, 9am to 5pm, except major holidays, and is located at 4068 Golden Hill Rd, Church Creek, MD 21622. Find out about guided tours of the Tubman Visitor Center and the Byway.