Amid ongoing controversy about how to treat Civil War-era Confederate monuments, a Beaufort church is moving forward with plans to honor a famed abolitionist.
Tabernacle Baptist Church will unveil a model of its planned Harriet Tubman statues on its Craven Street grounds at noon on Tuesday. Church leaders believe their property is where Tubman met with hundreds of newly freed slaves she helped escape during an 1863 operation along the Combahee River.
“Memorial to Her Services Rendered in Beaufort, South Carolina during the Civil War and to Her Leadership and Courage at the Combahee River Raid 1863,” the model’s inscription reads.
The 27-inch tall, 32-inch wide model is the next step in what is a $500,000 project by sculptor Ed Dwight. The money is being raised by private sources.
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Plans for the sculpture were announced in June 2016. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held at the church in May.
The statue will be 14-feet tall, with Tubman standing 7-feet tall atop the statue’s base.
“It is my design objective to present a serious, dignified memorial experience that captures the essence of the woman, Harriet Tubman; the inner strength and quiet power of this small, relatively uneducated ex-slave,” Dwight said in a statement provided by Tabernacle pastor Kenneth Hodges. “It is critical that the memorial be substantial, traditional, inspirational and permanent.
With these objectives in mind, I have created an over-life size sculpture of the great Harriet Tubman affixed atop a trapezoidal shape bronze pedestal element.”
The Tubman monument would join a bust of Robert Smalls, a Beaufort native who was enslaved before escaping on a Confederate ship and serving multiple terms in Congress. Some state lawmakers have proposed building a statue to Smalls on the State House grounds.