Committee launching campaign for Tubman sculpture in Auburn

A memorial sculpture in honor of Harriet Tubman in Auburn is the goal of a campaign that kicks-off on Friday, March 31, from 7 – 9 pm, the Harriet Tubman Downtown Memorial Committee (HTDMC) will host a dessert reception in the Havana Room of the Phoenix Building, located at 2 South Street.

The mission of HTDMC is to commission an artist to create a memorial sculpture in honor of Harriet Tubman to publicly proclaim Auburn’s pride in being Tubman’s chosen home for over 50 years; to raise awareness of Tubman’s contributions to Auburn and her lifelong work as a champion of human rights, and to inspire future generations through her courageous example. The Committee is also working to fund additional community projects, artwork and opportunities that will honor Tubman, as they continue to meet their goal.

The Harriet Tubman Downtown Memorial Committee is a joint committee of Celebrate! Diverse Auburn and the Harriet Tubman Boosters, both organizations of the Harriet Tubman Center for Justice and Peace. The volunteer committee is made up of Debra Rose Brillati (Chair), Laurel Ullyette (Harriet Tubman Boosters), Jimmy Giannettino (City Councilor), Chuck Mason (City Clerk), Stephanie DeVito and Jesse Kline (Downtown Auburn BID), Katie Macintyre (Generations Bank), Audrey Iwanicki (artist), and Ryan Foley (Cayuga County Legislator).

The dessert reception is free and open to the public and will feature comments Harriet Tubman descendant Pauline Copes-Johnson. Alsofrom Harriet Tubman relative, Pauline Copes-Johnson; the City of Auburn; Cayuga County; New York State Assembly; Harriet Tubman Boosters; Celebrate! Diverse Auburn; Auburn/Cayuga NAACP; Generations Bank and Downtown Auburn Business Improvement District.

Entertainment will be provided by the Auburn Community Choir, Sean McLeod, and students from Genesee Elementary School who will perform an original song about Harriet Tubman. Also, Auburn High School student and Tubman relative Tamara Broome will perform as a living statue of Tubman for the kick-off event. Traditional African-American desserts will be served along coffee, tea & wine.

On display at the event will be the quilt “Harriet Tubman,” a 3’ x 5’ textile portrait created by Blake Chamberlain. Funds raised by HTDMC will be used to purchase this quilt for later display in the Central New York Regional Welcome Center in downtown Auburn, once the facility is built next summer.

The City of Auburn has agreed to designate an appropriate public space for the Tubman sculpture installation. Fundraising efforts will include seeking public and private grants, targeting city and county businesses and civic organizations, and reaching out to individual donors. There will be a variety of fundraising events and efforts with the schools so students have an opportunity to contribute as well. HTDMC is a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens who are passionate about involving as many people as possible and seeing the process through to completion.

A website has been created to share information and facilitate electronic donations. The address is http://honorharrietauburnny.com. Donations may also be made by check payable to Harriet Tubman Memorial, and sent to 144 Genesee Street, Suite 102 – 122, Auburn, NY 13021.

Harriet Tubman is the single most internationally recognized and historically significant figure who has ever resided in Auburn, NY. The committee hopes that by installing a sculpture of Tubman in a prominent downtown location, she will finally take her rightful place among us– past, present and future–in the very heart of the city that she called home.

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