Today U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (Both D-Md.) announced new legislation to bring a statue of Harriet Tubman to the U.S. Capitol Building. In 2012, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation creating the Harriet Tubman Statue Commission to fundraise and commission an artist to sculpt a statue to donate for display in the U.S. Capitol Building. Congress must pass legislation in order to accept the donation, and this bill is the critical next step in the process. It will direct the Joint Committee on the Libraries, which manages art in the U.S Capitol Building, to enter into an agreement to accept the statue after it is completed.
“Harriet Tubman is an American hero, and it is an important way to honor her incredible contributions to our nation’s history by installing a statue reflecting her work in the U.S. Capitol,” said Senator Van Hollen. “Born in Maryland, she became a conductor on the Underground Railroad to lead slaves to freedom, served as a Union spy, and pushed for women’s suffrage. She was tireless in her pursuit of freedom and protection of human rights, and she represents the best in Maryland and the nation. I first introduced this legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I’m pleased to join with Senator Cardin to continue this work in the U.S. Senate. I look forward permanently commemorating Harriet Tubman’s life and work in the U.S. Capitol.”
“Harriet Ross Tubman is nothing short of an American icon. There are few greater examples of bravery and valor about which to teach our future generations” said Senator Cardin. “As Marylanders, we are proud that Harriet Ross Tubman was the first individual woman to have a National Historical Park named in her honor and a statue in the United States Capitol would be a fitting tribute to her incredible work and sacrifice that helped strengthen our nation.”
Senator Van Hollen announced the legislation today at an event honoring Black History Month at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County and returned to Maryland many times to help free slaves.
“It was a very long road for Harriet Tubman from the Eastern Shore to freedom,” said Linda Mahoney, President Emerita of Maryland NOW and Chair of the Harriet Tubman Statue Fundraising Commission. “But instead of stopping when she was safe, she returned to free slaves and perform other heroic deeds. And that wasn't enough for Harriet; after the war she raised money for education and hospitals for former slaves and worked for women's suffrage.”
Mahoney continued, “Thanks to Sen. Susan Lee and other visionaries in the Maryland General Assembly, and now thanks to Senator Chris Van Hollen, Senator Ben Cardin, and other Congressmembers, we are finally a few steps further toward moving a statue of Harriet Tubman into the U.S. Capitol. The Maryland Chapter of the National Organization for Women has been privileged to lead the effort to recognize this true American hero, and we thank the thousands of Marylanders who signed petitions and lobbied for a statue to this icon of freedom. We look forward to being able to start the fundraising after Congress authorizes the placement of the statue in the U.S. Capitol, where Harriet Tubman can inspire many generations of visitors.”