Sites where Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman lived and worshiped in Auburn, N.Y., officially became a national park on Tuesday, adding to growing recognition for the abolitionist and activist.
The Harriet Tubman National Park commemorates her post-Civil War advocacy for women’s suffrage and other causes. It includes her residence, a home she helped establish for elderly and indigent African Americans, and the historic Thompson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church and rectory, located near the cemetery where she is buried.
A memorandum, signed by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell during a ceremony, established the park as the 414th unit in the National Park System.
“She’s a true American hero because she didn’t just secure the blessings of liberty for herself, she risked her life to secure it for others and passionately fought to change her country to secure it for everyone,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., during the ceremony with other New York lawmakers, community and church members.
Born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Tubman was enslaved for 30 years before escaping in 1849 to Philadelphia. She then led hundreds of slaves to freedom in the North over a 10-year-period and became known as “Moses” by African American and white abolitionists.
A sister site in Cambridge, Md. — the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park — became a national park in December 2014 and its visitors center is expected to open in March.
“I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger,” she’s been quoted as saying.
Tubman worked for the Union Army during the Civil War as a cook and nurse, and later as a scout and spy. After the war, she cared for patients at the Home for the Aged she helped establish and she became active in the women’s suffrage movement. She spent the last 50 years of her life in Auburn where she died in 1913.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Nicole Gaudiano