Van Hollen to visit UMES Feb. 20

  • Plans to announce Harriet Tubman tribute

    Saturday, February 18, 2017
    Harriet Tubman

    U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is scheduled to visit the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Presidents' Day, Feb. 20, when he will formally announce plans to introduce federal legislation honoring Harriet Tubman. 

    Tubman, a Dorchester County native, is widely revered for helping slaves escape bondage during the mid-19th century. Her legacy will be celebrated March 11, when the visitors' center at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park formally opens near Cambridge. 

    Van Hollen will be touring the lower Eastern Shore, meeting with constituents, and asked to use UMES' Frederick Douglass Library as the backdrop for his announcement. Monday's visit will be his first since being sworn into office as retired U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski's successor. 

    Douglass, a Talbot County native born into slavery, was his generation's pre-eminent abolitionist and a widely respected author, editor and diplomat. He died Feb. 20, 1895, so Van Hollen and event organizers thought it would be an appropriate tribute to make the Tubman announcement on the anniversary of Douglass' death at a building named in his honor. 

    With Van Hollen's support, UMES also will unveil its own Tubman tribute. The senator's visit will feature brief performances by the UMES concert band and Eunice Lewis Seagraves, an actress who will present a brief scene from a one-woman play about Tubman's life. 

    The senator also will meet with students and university leaders, including President Juliette B. Bell. 

    A spokeswoman for Van Hollen said he wants to “discuss the importance of investing in education at every level.” 

    Monday's event will begin at 10:15 a.m. in front of the library, where afterwards guests will gather on the second floor for a reception in the shadow of a colorful mural featuring images of Douglass and Tubman painted in 2000.