City of Newburgh – A crowd of about 100 cheering people, along with area officials, came to the Newburgh Free Library grounds to welcome the beautiful Harriet Tubman Statue, honoring a woman who freed over 1,000 slaves during the abolition struggle before the Civil War. It was a welcome positive event about an astonishing woman during a time calling for appreciation of accomplishments and struggles in the black population, and especially women’s struggles.
The bronze statue is from Emmy and Academy award-winner Wesley Wofford and will stay in the City until December. It is art of a larger program called “Journey To Freedom”
Newburgh Legislator, Kevindaryan Lujan who was there for its arrival said “We are very excited to have the Harriet Tubman sculpture here in the City of Newburgh. In many ways it felt like a homecoming. in addition to the crowd, the sculpture was welcomed by beautiful performances. I encourage all our residents to stop by the Newburgh Free Library and witness this spectacular piece first hand. Thank you to the Newburgh Free Library and all the volunteers for making this possible. “
Born as a slave, with the name Araminta Harriet Ross, and nicknamed “Minty”, she started using her middle name in later life. After escaping to the North in 1849 she risked her life on many trips back to the South where she would gather group after group of slaves and lead them on their railroad trip to Freedom. Tubman suffered great violence during her life, including brutal scars covering her back, and seizures and headaches that resulted from a 5-lb. weight thrown at her head for refusing to help capture a fellow slave. She made 19 rescue trips for others, earning her the monikers of “Moses” and “the most famous Conductor of all time”, and was for a time an armed spy for the Union Army. During this time there were homes throughout the Orange County area, from Port Jervis to Newburgh, that had hidden rooms places and tunnels to aid in these escapes.
One tough lady, Harriet Tubman lived to about the age of 93, and when she had to have brain surgery to try to cure seizures and narcolepsy that resulted from the blow to her head, she refused anesthesia, opting instead to bite on a bullet, “just like the soldiers”.
During one of her trips from slavery to freedom, as she crossed into free Pennsylvania, she is reported to have said, “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”
More photos with this story in this week’s Orange County Post.