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A new Harriet Tubman movie could put Beaufort Co. in the spotlight. How to see it early

A new movie about Harriet Tubman could bring more attention to her work in Beaufort County as local officials work to raise support for a monument to Tubman here.

“Harriet” won’t hit theaters until Nov. 1, but a private screening will be held in Bluffton on Saturday for those who pay $125 for the experience. That event and another in Charleston on Oct. 26 will raise money for the 14-foot monument planned for the grounds of Tabernacle Baptist Church in downtown Beaufort.

Supporters hope the bronze sculpture by artist Ed Dwight can be completed in 2020. Money is still being raised in private donations for the estimated $500,000 project.

A major movie detailing Tubman’s work to free and support enslaved people in the South — including her role in the Combahee River raid that freed hundreds of slaves — should help spotlight Beaufort County’s history and raise awareness for the planned monument, said Rev. Kenneth Hodges, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church.

“I think it’s going to have some ramifications on our area,” Hodges said. “And a lot of people are going to be introduced to her life and her Civil War experience through this movie.”

The movie will also be screened for free to 150 students from Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties on Oct. 29 in Bluffton.

The event Saturday includes a reception before the screening and a panel discussion after the movie that will include Hodges, former Penn Center director Emory Campbell and Penn Center’s Victoria Smalls.

Tubman was a famed abolitionist widely credited for having helped lead the Combahee Raid as well as having gathered intelligence as a Union spy, though local historians say there is little written record of the time she spent here from 1862 until 1864.

After the raid in June 1863, the newly freed people were brought to a Beaufort church where Tubman delivered a stirring speech that led many of the men to join a Union infantry regiment of black soldiers.

Tubman’s sculpture would join on the Tabernacle Baptist property a the grave site and bust of Robert Smalls, who was born into slavery in Beaufort, piloted a Confederate ship out of Charleston to Union forces and served in Congress.

The first movie about Tubman’s life has been met with mixed reviews. Hodges said he thinks the film will be a good teaching tool for students, and the early screenings are a unique opportunity.

“I think it’s going to be the type of movie where a lot of people will see it over and over again,” he said.

Harriet Tubman movie screening

What: Early screening of “Harriet,” the first movie made about Harriet Tubman, scheduled to be released in theaters Nov. 1. Event also includes a reception and a panel discussion after the movie.

Where: Cinemark Bluffton; 106 Buckwalter Parkway; Bluffton, SC 29910.

When: noon Saturday.

Cost: $125. Tickets can be purchased online at www.harriettubmanmonument.com/harriet.

Stephen Fastenau covers northern Beaufort County as a reporter for The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, where he has worked since 2010 and been recognized with state and national awards. He studied journalism and political science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and lives in Beaufort.
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