The June celebration in Cape May doubles as the grand opening of the new Harriet Tubman Museum in this Jersey Shore resort town.
About 200 people gathered at Rotary Park on Saturday for the museum’s first important June 16th event in the city. African drums and speeches by local leaders attracted the first taste of the holiday Juneteenth.
“I found this event very exciting,” said Shirley Derby of nearby Whitesboro, who has never celebrated Juneteenth. “I think it’s good just to know that we meet on June 16th every year as a national holiday. It’s been a while.”
Some have come specially for the long-awaited opening of the Harriet Tubman Museum, which was a year late due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I know Harriet Tubman, its history, right. That’s why I got here,” said Gerald Brown, who came down from Pleasantville. “They talk about the underground railroad, but then she was a nurse, as you know that she was in the army. There’s a lot she’s done.”
Tubman’s time at Cape May was short. She is known to have spent the summer there — perhaps two summers — working at a resort hotel to fund her work on the underground railroad. She later returned through Cape May and shepherd nine former slaves who had fled to Canada.
The restored 19th-century Parsons House tells the story of Tubman and the once vibrant African-American community of Cape May.
One wall has been filled floor-to-ceiling with a list of all black-owned companies in Cape May since the 1930s. The opposite wall depicts a timeline of black activity in the town, from the establishment of the first free black community in the 1820s to the first black resort hotel, Banneker House, in 1845.
The museum’s director, Linda Anderson Towns, said the black community in Cape May wasn’t as big as it was 50 or 100 years ago.
“The African-American community has almost disappeared,” she said. “Many aren’t here anymore, and the world needs to know the story. I want to keep it from disappearing,” he said.
Anderson Towns sees the Harriet Tubman Museum as the first step towards building a black historic district in Cape May by preserving the surrounding structures that tell the story of the black community.
“Our goal is not only to tour the Harriet Tubman Museum, but also to Tour Steven Smith’s house and talk about him as one of the wealthiest African Americans in 1800,” she says. I did. “The historic Franklin Street School will be a library and a historic AME. [church].. I would like to make the full corner a freedom corner in the end. “
Elaine Moore-Wright came to the museum on Saturday from Williamstown with her mother, Betty Eugenia Dozier Moore. Longtime visitors to Cape May say history is there, if you look at it.
“There is always a part of African-American history,” Moore Wright said. “But there are certain places where it’s about African-American history.”
“I’ve lived here since I was at Cape May, so it’s been so for a long time at Cape May,” said Dozier Moore. “I came down here when I was a kid. I’m 84 years old, so Cape May has been here for a long time.”
New Harriet Tubman Museum Opens in Cape May on June 16th | Lifestyle
Source link New Harriet Tubman Museum Opens in Cape May on June 16th | Lifestyle