Baltimore renames former Confederate park in honor of Harriet Tubman
An area of Wyman Park Dell, which is located near Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, was renamed and rededicated on Saturday in honor of legendary abolitionist and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman. Now the Harriet Tubman Grove, the site formerly housed statues honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, as well as a monument dedicated to Confederate women and Roger B. Taney (the judge who wrote the opinion in the Dred Scott case).
Amid the growing movements to remove or amend former Confederate monuments across the nation in the wake of the white nationalist march and subsequent riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, Baltimore’s mayor Catherine Pugh made the choice to remove the monuments in the middle of the night. “I felt the best way to remove the monuments was to remove them overnight… I thought that there’s enough grandstanding, enough speeches being made, get it done,” Pugh said, telling CNN that the decision to relocate the monuments “shouldn’t be a debate that’s gripping this city.”
Harriet Tubman was a former slave who escaped her bondage to later return on over 200 reported raids to free enslaved people from the prison of slavery. Tubman was affectionately referred to as Black Moses for her selfless acts of abolitionist courage, and was later called a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, the system which moved those who were enslaved from their bondage on Southern plantations to the freedom of the North. Tubman later became a Union spy and a major proponent of the rights of women, African American women especially, to vote.
The non-profit Baltimore’s Friends of Wyman Park Dell that supports the park wrote Baltimore’s City Council a approving letter after the decision. “Finally, this dedication of a grove of trees seems a fitting honor for a great abolitionist and U.S. Army spy who traveled countless miles through Maryland forests,” the letter reads. “The proposal to name part of Wyman Park Dell as ‘Harriet Tubman Grove’ provides the city an opportunity to correct a historic injustice for a Maryland native. Our city has not yet properly recognized Harriet Tubman who died in poverty.”