Saturday, September 17, 2022

Continuing the Legacy


There are many things going on in Columbia/HoCo today, but this one has my heart.

Harriet Tubman Cultural Center to open this weekend in Columbia at site of former all-Black high school, Ethan Ehrenhaft, Baltimore Sun

I first became aware of the significance of the Harriet Tubman School in 2017 when I attended a Columbia storytellers event at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center. Bessie Bordenave spoke of her experiences as a student at the Harriet Tubman school. She stressed how teachers and administrators went above and beyond to care for and lift up their students. I learned so much that I had not known in just that one talk. 

It created in me a personal connection to the lives and stories of the students and teachers of Harriet Tubman.

Ms. Bordenave’s talk that evening made a big impression on me. The love and pride she felt for her school helped me enter into a time and place I had never known or experienced. We shouldn’t be afraid of these stories. We should be far more afraid of being ignorant or lacking the empathy to enter into the worlds of people not like us. The Big Bad and the Very Small Good” Village Green/Town² March 23, 2022

The road from the building’s post-school existence as an hcpss maintenance facility to today, when it opens as the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, has been both far too long and unnecessarily arduous. The facility was originally set to open in 2021 but was sidelined by a break-in and acts of vicious destruction.  The activists and advocates who labored bring the stories of the Harriet Tubman school to the public must have felt disheartened many times over the years. 

We are extremely fortunate that they did not give up. Our history is incomplete without a rich and truthful telling of segregation in Howard County and the real human beings who lived that experience. 

The Harriet Tubman Foundation was established in 2002 to “address the future of the (former school) building and…to keep the spirit of Harriet Tubman High School alive.” Bessie Bordenave, whose storytelling in 2017 brought the life of the school alive to me, has been a constant and driving force.

Here is the schedule for today’s festivities.

Grand Opening Celebration - - Harriet Tubman Cultural Center,  Saturday Sept 17th, 2022

10:30 AM Ribbon Cutting Ceremony 

11 AM - 4 PM,

Harriet Tubman Day Celebration

Image from Howard County NAACP, Facebook

The Harriet Tubman Cultural Center is located  at 8045 Harriet Tubman Lane in Columbia, Maryland, 21044.

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