The Harriet Tubman sculpture officially arrived at the Newburgh Free Library on October 12. The long-awaited arrival has kept residents excited since its announcement in early July.
The sculpture is 9-feet tall and 2,400 pounds. The bronze statue is from Emmy and Academy award-winner Wesley Wofford. The statue itself has won the Agop Agopoff Memorial Prize at the National Sculpture Society’s 87th Annual Awards Exhibition. It will call the Newburgh Free Library home up until December 12.
However, the “Journey to Freedom” program is running for a year and will include arts, cultural and educational programs inspired by “the courage, vision and strength of the American abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman.”
The arrival of the statue was from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and there were special guests M’Vore Entertainment dance group, The Mouvas and choir, and Sounds of Heritage. Due to COVID-19, it was maxed out at 50 guests.
The sculpture traveled from Broadway to the Newburgh Free Library, where guests awaited its arrival. Mary Lou Carolan, assistant director of the Library, hosted the event. Sculptor Wofford and his partner flew in from North Carolina to attend the special arrival.
“Harriet Tubman is often fondly and reverently called Moses for leading so many African Americans out of bondage to freedom,” said Carolan at the start of the event. “Harriet Tubman is one of the most recognized icons in American history. Her legacy, her courage, strength, faith, conviction and determination inspires people from every race and background. Tubman was unflinching in her commitment to liberation.”
The Newburgh Freedom Quilt Project even worked hard to prepare a special welcome carpet for the sculpture’s arrival.
The arrival ceremony did not stand alone. Leading to and following the special day, the Library held several special events and programming to tell the story of Newburgh and African American History right here in the Hudson Valley. This was all thanks to the $5,000 grant from Humanities New York.
On Monday, October 5 there was a live program with the sculptor and on Wednesday, October 7 there was an opportunity for watercolor painting with artist Alan Lewis.
Virtual programs following the arrival include diverse voices book club reads, silent messages in the music: decoding Tubman’s spirituals and a Tuesday at two book discussion event.
On Saturday, October 17 there is another outdoor event to celebrate Harriet Tubman’s Journey to Freedom. The celebration is planned to include a variety of musicians, artists and spoken word performers. It is from 12 to 3 p.m. at the Library.
Additionally, on Thursday, October 22 and 29 at 6:30 p.m. there will be an opportunity to hear excerpts from “Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman,” facilitated by Gabrielle Burton-Hill. It will be held at Gritworks, located at 115 Broadway.
The Newburgh Free Library is also holding a sculpture sketch contest for children up to the age of 17 to participate in. The winner is awarded a gift card to a local business. All sketches need to be submitted by November 30, and the winner will be announced in early December.
To learn more about Harriet Tubman, the sculpture and the Journey to Freedom, visit newburghlibrary.org/a-journey-to-freedom-harriet-tubman/.