UMES delegation lobbies for federal park

  • Saturday, October 8, 2011

    PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - (Oct. 7, 2011) - Students and faculty from UMES joined two busloads of grassroots lobbyists from the Eastern Shore, including Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson Stanley, in a recent trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in "Harriet on the Hill" day.

    The group met up on Capitol Hill Sept. 14 with supporters from Morgan State University, the town of Auburn, N.Y. and descendants of Harriet Tubman, an important historical figure who helped slaves escape to freedom in the 19th century.

    The 150 "Harriet" supporters were advocating for passage of federal legislation that would create a national historical park honoring Tubman at two locations - one in Maryland and the other in upstate New York.  Maryland's Eastern Shore is where Tubman, or "Moses" as she was called, was born into slavery, escaped, led the Underground Railroad and became a Union spy in the Civil War.  Auburn, N.Y. is where she lived in later years with her family, advocated for women's suffrage and died at age 93.

    "Participating in the rally ... was an eye-opening experience," said LaBasha Alexander, a UMES English major. "There is an exceptional amount of history on the Eastern Shore.  Being involved in 'Harriet on the Hill' day has shown me why a Tubman national park is necessary."

    Before heading to Washington, UMES students did research by studying lobbying strategies with Sally Grant Kenyon, an aide to Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley who works toward passage of bills important to the state. 

    The day of the event, the group visited with members of Congress in the morning and senators in the afternoon. Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, a co-author of the bill that would create the national park,  played host to a luncheon in Tubman's honor.  Dr. Kathryn Barrett-Gaines, UMES' director of African and African-American Studies, served as emcee while UMES students Clifford Glover and LaBasha Alexander spoke along with other attendees. 

    UMES lobbyist delegation, Harriet on the Hill - Sept. 14, 2011

    UMES lobbyists also met with Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who helped obtain nearly $1 million in funding for Maryland's Harriet Tubman State Park, scheduled to open in 2013. 

    Federal funding would for a national park would underwrite the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor's Center in Maryland and the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, N.Y.

    "I was humbled and inspired as I listened to a member of the Tubman family, Jackie Ross Henry, share her family story," Alexander said.

    UMES' participation was the result of collaboration between the Hotel and Restaurant Management Department and the programs in History and African-American Studies.

    "I'm delighted that we could partner in delivering this unique educational experience to our students," said Dr. Ernest Boger, chair of the university's HRM Department.


    "Harriett on the Hill" lobbyists for the day pictured above (from left) are: Andrew Carrington, HRM; Candace White, HRM; Daniel Muchai, HRM; Ellis Gardner, HRM; Marcel Blocker, engineering and technology; Clifford Glover, History; and Dr. Ernest Boger, chair, UMESx