Our Time Press

Harriet Tubman Returns To Peekskill

By Elizabeth Rankin-Fulcher
“Joy cometh in the morning” and indeed it did when the “The Journey to Freedom” Harriet Tubman statue arrived in Peekskill, New York on December 14, 2020.
This larger-than-life statue can be enjoyed outdoors on Central Avenue and North Division Street in downtown Peekskill through Black History Month, February 2021. All events will be virtual.
Yes, Tubman returns to Peekskill as it is believed she came through during her underground railroad travels.
The bronze statue, weighing 2,400 lbs. and towering nine feet tall, shows a young, enslaved girl gripping Harriet’s right arm tightly, cautiously leaning out to get a better look as to where Harriet is taking her; it is believed to be based on an incident in 1858 when Harriet led an enslaved girl to freedom.
The base on which the statue stands represents Maryland/Delaware where Harriet was enslaved, escaped, and returned several times to bring others to freedom.
Wesley Wofford, sculptor of “The Journey to Freedom” explained that the statue was a private commission for a building in Dallas, Texas. However, when photographs of the statue created such a sensation on social media with more than 1.4 million views the idea of a travelling exhibition was born, a replica created, and the travelling exhibition began.
Peekskill is the fifth stop on this traveling celebration of Harriet’s achievements and vision of hope; first stop was the Peace and Justice Center in Montgomery, Alabama followed by the Tubman Museum in Cape May, New Jersey, on to Tubman’s birthplace on the Eastern Shore in Cambridge, Maryland and most recently the Newburgh Free Library, Newburgh, New York.
Brian Fassett, Board President of the Peekskill Business Improvement District, invites the public to enjoy the many virtual historical events scheduled throughout Black History Month including the local chapter of the NAACP interviewing elders in the community, musical entertainment, panel discussion with descendants of Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass and Hawley Green and so much more.

The Journey to Freedom”
Artist Wesley Wofford’s Background

Wesley Wofford, an Emmy and Academy Award winning sculptor, works from his private studio in the National Forest of North Carolina. His studio is filled with sculptures at various stages of completion, the large commissions occupying the same space as portraits, gallery pieces, and maquette studies.
Wofford organized a sculpture park within The Village Green near his home, where he was the curator of a Permanent Collection and three Biennial Invitational Exhibitions. He was invited to join The Bascom Board of Directors in Highlands, NC, and curated an Inaugural Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition that opened May 2015. He was awarded Signature Status with The Portrait Society of America in March 2015 and is an elected member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Portrait Sculptors Society of the Americas.
Wofford’s sculptures are recognized on a national and international level with various awards and publications celebrating and featuring his work.

“There is a lot of embedded symbolism within the narrative of the piece.
“The contours of the base represent the Maryland/Delaware Peninsula…,
“The dramatic step up/cut is the Pennsylvania state line, and they are stepping out of the slave states to an elevated freedom.
“The dress is enveloping the young girl, billowing protectively like a flag, and is meant to represent all the legal protections afforded every United States citizen-a symbol of the future equality to come.
“Each hand on the sculpture signifies an attribute: Determination, Protection, Fear, and Trust.
“The (formerly enslaved) girl is leaning out to get a better look at where Harriet is taking her with a look of trepidation on her face. She is gripping Harriet’s right arm tightly but her delicate finger grasp is cautiously hopeful.”

“There is a lot of embedded symbolism within the narrative of the piece.
“The contours of the base represent the Maryland/Delaware Peninsula…,
“The dramatic step up/cut is the Pennsylvania state line, and they are stepping out of the slave states to an elevated freedom.
“The dress is enveloping the young girl, billowing protectively like a flag, and is meant to represent all the legal protections afforded every United States citizen-a symbol of the future equality to come.
“Each hand on the sculpture signifies an attribute: Determination, Protection, Fear, and Trust.
“The {formerly enslaved} girl is leaning out to get a better look at where Harriet is taking her with a look of trepidation on her face. She is gripping Harriet’s right arm tightly but her delicate finger grasp is cautiously hopeful.”

WOFFORD SCULPTURE STUDIO, LLC
www.woffordsculpturestudio.com

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