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Bring Harriet Home

A new generation honors Harriet Tubman's legacy

BY Niambi Davis

Photos by Maire Mcardle


When Adrian Holmes came to Dorchester County, she was certain of one thing only: her move would fulfill a purpose and a destiny. For a woman who believes in divinely ordered steps, each one she took followed a path of service to the community through art and culture. Adrian’s example of service was her father, the late Reverend John Green, Jr., pastor of Christ Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and founder of Alpha Genesis. “He was a fearless pillar of strength who could be called upon for anything at any time.” When he passed away, Adrian began a new Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation in Cambridge.


The organization’s connection to honoring the legacy of Harriet Tubman is based upon one of its core principles: to foster community conversations around art and culture. Michael Rosato’s “Take My Hand” mural is a direct result of one such conversation. Dedication of the world-renowned mural took place on The Day of Resilience 2019, coordinated by Alpha Genesis to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the transatlantic slave trade. On the Day of Resilience 2020, “The Journey to Freedom” came to Cambridge. The sculpture, a 9-foot bronze of Tubman, is the creation of Academy and Emmy Award-winning artist Wesley Wofford.

“People left their cars and ran over to photograph and touch it,” Adrian recalls. The entire community came together to welcome “The Journey to Freedom” to Cambridge as a 30-day traveling exhibit on the Dorchester County Courthouse grounds.


This collective energy sparked the creation of a coalition to raise money for a permanent tribute to Tubman. An 11-foot bronze sculpture, “The Beacon of Hope,” would also be created by Wofford. A Facebook post announcing the effort caught the eye of John Kahl, a Mace’s Lane Middle School social studies teacher. When Mr. Kahl shared the post with his students, they were determined to play a role in the fundraising effort. But how? When their brainstorming sessions resulted in plans to publish a book, Mr. Kahl posed the question to Adrian: “How can we work together?”


Adrian makes it clear that her role was that of advisor only — full credit belongs to the students. “We were working off their energy,” she insists. The result of this collaboration became Discovering Harriet, written and illustrated by the 7th grade students of Mace’s Lane Middle School. Unlike other books about Tubman, Discovering Harriet is written from their perspective — how they learned about the statue and their plans to bring a permanent sculpture to the grounds of the Dorchester County Courthouse. Charles Ross, a direct Tubman descendant, created the cover art. Participating students wrote the text and created illustrations. Hispanic students involved in the project volunteered to translate the book into Spanish. Nothing could halt the project’s momentum — not even the pandemic. To inspire the budding authors, Alpha Genesis provided a series of virtual events including an assembly with a Tubman reenactor and online sculpting classes with Wesley Wofford himself.

Through determination, hard work, newly developed skills, tenacity, and collaboration, what began as an enthusiastic idea in November 2020 became a reality in May of 2021. Discovering Harriet is available online, in Cambridge at the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, 306 High Street, and the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center, 424 Race Street.

“These kids have got guts, grit, and determination,” Adrian insists with pride. “They’re smart and unafraid. I want to shout from every available platform that I am an advocate for the students of Dorchester County Public Schools.”


From an often-repeated quote, Tubman is described as “the hero we need today, our North Star that recognizes the bravery, strength, and resilience in each one of us.” The same could be said about the 7th grade students of Mace’s Lane Middle School.


For more information on about how to purchase Discovering Harriet or the mission of Alpha Genesis Community Development


Organization, visit

www.alphagenesiscdc.org

To learn more about “The Journey to Freedom” and “The Beacon of Hope,” visit

www.woffordsculpturestudio.com.

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