Recently came back from vacation in Ocean, Pines, MD (been vacationing from
Hillombo as well and will do better on that front) and at my wife’s suggestion the family took a day to go and see the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center in Dorchester, MD. I knew a few facts about this incredible woman, namely that she escaped enslavement and then made many trips to free 300 other enslaved Africans, but, even though I am from MD, I did not know she was born and escaped from Dorchester County, MD. The Center’s staff is ready to share lots of information about this revered ancestor and the space has books and videos pertaining to her and has located important sites in this community so that one can go see feel the import of her work and impact of the enslavement of African people. After traveling an hour plus to see the space we bought a book, some artifacts and made a small donation all totalling about $100, ate a local restaurant (no indicator that it was African American owned in the menu or décor) dropping another $60 and then went in a local jewelry store and probably spent 10 more bucks, but this also did not appear to be African American owned. The Museum is an example of the Hill District Master Plan principle “Building Upon The African American Legacy” and our visit shows how this kind of institution can both be a place to tell the story of African American people and attract dollars to a community. Unfortunately, it can also show how those dollars may not necessarily benefit African American for-profit business owners, so that is a sobering fact, but all work is work in progress… The leaders of this space and their supporters (state of MD being one) get it in that a new and expanded Center is set to open in 2015. In this the centennial of the death of Freedom Fighter Harriet Tubman, ashe (Yoruba word that can roughly translated into English to mean energy) to her spirit and to the folks who have had the vision to connect the history of their community to its future. The Hill clearly has the legacy to have its own strategies to attract cultural tourists, and, thoughtfully “cultivated”, culture could even more for the identity we develop as residents of the neighborhood and the region’s identity as an interesting place to live, particularly for African American folks.