In 2011, Maryland NOW and a coalition supported a bill to replace one of Maryland's two official state statues in the Statuary Hall collection at the U.S. Capitol with a statue of Harriet Tubman.
The original intent for this visible presence of a Maryland woman in a collection of 93% male figures was to 1) start to develop more of a gender balance in the U.S. Capitol; and 2) update the visual "face" of Maryland (the official statues are the original ones from 1903), which is represented to national and international visitors to the Capitol.
The legislation was amended in the Maryland Senate to kill the effectiveness of the bill and the companion bill in the House was withdrawn.
The 100th anniversary of Harriet Tubman's death is March 10, 2013. (Birthdate is unknown.) Given the same legislators as last year, the same bill would suffer a similar fate. Accordingly, in order to get the fundraising for the statue started (no state funds are requested), it was decided to have the state legislature request permission for the citizens of Maryland to give a statue of Harriet Tubman to the people of the U.S., to be placed in the U.S. Capitol.
Companion legislation calls for an annual commemorative Harriet Tubman Day in Maryland and an official request by the legislature to the President for a National Harriet Tubman Day on March 10, 2013. The hearings on the bills will be March 13 in Annapolis.
Marylanders are encouraged to contact their legislators, and the list of bill sponsors is attached as well. More information and a petition can be found: http://marylandnow.org/page.php?id=252
President, Maryland NOW
There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers. - Susan B. Anthony
USWCC Letter of Support
March 9, 2012
In SUPPORT of
HJ 11/SJ 5, HB 1154/SB 790, HB 1164/SB 777, and HJ10/SJ 4
The United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. is a place where states are able to honor their heroes. In the past, many of the people memorialized in marble and bronze were chosen on the basis of their historic contributions and public service. Other states have chosen to honor residents whom they believe represent that state’s highest values, ideals and aspirations.* Marylanders honor our colonial founders, but we believe that we should also have a Maryland statue in the Capitol which more adequately represents the diversity of our wonderful state.
The members of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce join with other organizations and individuals of good will in supporting the efforts to make Harriet Tubman an ambassador in our Nation’s Capitol to the people of the United States. To that end we join with many prominent individuals and organizations from throughout the state in urging Maryland legislators to pass enabling legislation HJ 11/SJ 5.
We believe that, with the 100th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s death impending (March 10, 2013), it is time to update the visible representations of Maryland’s contributions to our nation’s history by adding in a place of prominence a statue of nationally-renowned icon Harriet Tubman. She is without equal a well-known figure of courage, forbearance and resolve. We support the gift of a Harriet Tubman statue from the citizens of Maryland to be placed in the U.S. Capitol Building.
As most school children in Maryland and around the country know, Tubman escaped slavery herself, only to return to the South many times to usher other slaves to freedom along the ‘Underground Railroad’. Although significant, Tubman’s contributions should not be counted only as the numerous slaves she helped free from bondage. Her larger-than-life exploits working with the Union army as a spy master, leader of raids, and nurse were balanced by post-War humanitarian efforts – founding hospitals and schools for former slaves and working for women’s suffrage. Tubman was, and continues to be, an inspiration for people in Maryland and around the world who have struggled for liberty and equality. As the abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson recounted: "Her tales of adventure are beyond anything in fiction and her ingenuity and generalship are extraordinary. I have known her for some time -- the slaves call her Moses."
The contributions of African-Americans, other minorities, and women have too long gone unheralded in the iconography of our nation’s history. Let’s give Harriet Tubman and her achievements the audience and the respect they deserve. We respectfully request that our state legislators work for passage of the statue bill and the other Harriet Tubman commemorative bills - HB 1154/SB 790, HB 1164/SB 777, and HJ10/SJ 4 - during the 2012 session.
*Out of 100 statues in the National Statuary Hall collection, only nine are women. Of the 100+ statues and portraits in the Capitol building, very few are non-Caucasians. We believe American women and minorities deserve more representation and respect.
Margot Dorfman, CEO
U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce