Beaufort News

Mitchelville to celebrate 150th anniversary through Harriet Tubman tales

One of the information kiosks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site of the Mitchelville Preservation Project at Fish Haul Creek on Hilton Head Island held in May.
One of the information kiosks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site of the Mitchelville Preservation Project at Fish Haul Creek on Hilton Head Island held in May. File, staff photo

A musical and theatrical performance Saturday will pay tribute to the 150th anniversary of the country's first freed-slaves village, while also raising money to commemorate the historic site on Hilton Head Island through the Mitchelville Freedom Park.

"Fa Be Free: The Dawn of Freedom" will start at 6 p.m. in Hilton Head High School's Visual and Performing Arts Center. The event is sponsored by the Mitchelville Preservation Project, which is raising money to build the park.

The show will open with gospel music by the high school's Out of the Blue Chorus, featuring Lavon Stevens, one of the event's coordinators.

The main event is a one-woman show called "Becoming Harriet Tubman," in which storyteller Natalie Daise will play five characters, including Tubman.

The conductor of the Underground Railroad in the 1860s, Tubman visited Hilton Head "so she could share the story of Mitchelville's self-governed success with future freedmen towns," according to the Mitchelville Preservation Project's website.

"What she really wanted was for people to be self-sufficient," Daise said.

Daise, who lived in Beaufort County for about 30 years and helped create the 1990s children's TV show "Gullah Gullah Island," said she chose characters pivotal to Tubman's development, such as Tubman's mother, to show how she became a leader in helping slaves escape to the North.

"It's more about what they observed," she said of the characters. "It's about how she became who she was."

Daise said portraying Tubman's fearlessness is an appropriate way to honor Mitchelville's 150th anniversary. Like the town's first residents, Tubman risked her life to promote freedom.

"She had this absolute belief that she was almost charmed -- she could not be caught," Daise said. "She walked into situations others would have been afraid to because she thought she was on a mission from God."

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