On the heels of the announcement of a national monument placing Beaufort County at the forefront of the Reconstruction Era story, plans are moving forward for a sculpture recognizing Harriet Tubman’s contributions in the area.
Sketches of the planned 14-foot-tall monument have been provided to Tabernacle Baptist Church, the historic church on Craven Street in downtown Beaufort. The sculpture would sit on the church grounds, the same grounds where Robert Smalls is buried.
Tabernacle Baptist pastor Kenneth Hodges said the national monument designation should boost the stature of the sculpture. The national monument will include a Craven Street hub directing visitors to important Reconstruction sites, and Craven Street was already home to a visitors center.
“There is a lot of interest in it now,” Hodges said.
The Tubman sculpture would join a bust of Smalls as public art at the church. The work would recognize the abolitionist’s role during an 1863 raid along the Combahee River that freed hundreds of slaves during the Civil War.
A sketch of the site plan shows a 7-foot statue of Tubman standing on a base that seems to depict slaves moving toward a boat.
Supporters have raised about 10 percent of the anticipated $500,000 necessary for the sculpture, Hodges said. The church set up a website, www.harriettubmanmonument.com, to tell the story of Tubman’s role in the area and to raise money.
Sculptor Ed Dwight would be commissioned for the work. The Colorado artist crafted the African American History Monument in Columbia and other projects recognizing black history.
The church hopes to unveil a model of the sculpture in Beaufort as early as February and aims for a June 2 groundbreaking to coincide with the anniversary of Tubman’s Combahee raid, Hodges said.
The pastor hopes what was viewed as a four-year project can be condensed into three years with the publicity of the national monument and plans to add Tubman to the $20 bill.