Sculpture Vulture: Harriet Tubman

With news that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20, it is a good chance to revisit Little Rock’s Harriet Tubman sculpture.

In preparation for the opening of the Clinton Library in 2004, a series of sculptures were placed which linked a walkway between the River Market and the Clinton Presidential Park.

One of these sculptures is entitled Harriet Tubman.  Since she was from the era of President Lincoln, it seems fitting to feature this sculpture on this, Lincoln’s birthday.

The bronze sculpture, by Jane DeDecker, depicts Miss Tubman grasping the hand of a young boy and leading him on a walk.  DeDecker captures both compassion and a steely determination in the features of Miss Tubman’s face.  The folds of their clothes indicate that they are on a journey.

Whether their walk is a part of the Underground Railroad or simply a walk along the path in post-war times is immaterial. Miss Tubman understood that there is always some form of oppression one must struggle against.

Etched into the base of the statue (and repeated on plaque on the pedestal) is a quote attributed to Miss Tubman.  “Children, if you are tired, keep going; if you’re hungry, keep going; if you’re scared, keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”

The statue was originally located in Riverfront Park near the site of the current Game and Fish Nature Center.  It was relocated during the construction of that facility and now anchors the entrance to Clinton Presidential Park.  Harriet Tubman was a gift of Haskell and Peggy Dickinson to the City of Little Rock.

1 thought on “Sculpture Vulture: Harriet Tubman

  1. March 1913…Page 9 — the New York Times obit for this magnificent woman. We will all be better people with her image on currency tucked in our pockets, reminding us of how far we have come plus how far we have yet to go TOGETHER.

    Below is the obit:

    “Harriett Tubman Davis, an ex-slave, known as the ‘Moses of her people’, who before the Civil War took 300 slaves to Canada through her ‘underground railroad’ died on Monday night at the home she founded for aged and indigent negroes at Auburn, New York. She was said to be 98 years old and her death was caused by pneumonia.

    Harriett Tubman Davis was esteemed by such men as Ralph Waldo Emmerson, William Lloyd Garrison, Phillips Brooks, Horace Mann, Frederick Douglas, Gerrit Smith and John Brown while on the other hand planters and slave owners offered rewards of from $12,000.00 to $40,000.00 for her capture during the fifties, at the time when she was taking slaves out of the United States. She had served as a scout, nurse and spy for the Union Army.”

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