In order for land to be designated as a national park, the National Park Service must own at least a portion of the property. For those worried that the Tubman land was sold off to the government, never fear. According to the Huffington Post, the agreement says that the park service will “acquire the historic Thompson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church on Parker Street. The two sides will then jointly operate the South Street property where Tubman’s former residence and the Home for the Aged are located.” In all, the park will span more than 26 acres.
How do the current curators feel about the deal? “This is good. This is really, really good,” declared Karen Hill, executive director of the Harriet Tubman Home.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called Tubman a “remarkable American hero” and have lobbied for the park for many years. Said Gillibrand, “The Harriet Tubman residence showcases the life of an icon and agent of social change who altered the face of our nation for future generations.This designation would be another national highlight of New York’s rich history and would strengthen our commitment to preserving our landmarks.”
Tubman was a slave in Maryland who escaped in 1849. Instead of reveling in her own freedom, she risked her life to return to Maryland and rescue over 70 other slaves. She purchased her home in Auburn, New York, in 1959. She opened the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged elderly Blacks on this property. In 1903, she gave the property to AME Zion Church with the understanding that they would oversee the home and take care of the property. With federal protection, the land will now be a monument in perpetuity.