Packed house for first-annual Harriet Tubman Day in Auburn, honoring her 106 years later

Local News

It was standing room only Sunday at the New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center in downtown Auburn. The event was the first of its kind and it came 106 years after Tubman’s death.

“I want people to know and appreciate what she did,” said Pauline Copes Johnson, Tubman’s great-great-grandniece.

Johnson never met her relative but she knows she moved mountains for her ancestors.

“She was a very courageous person, to do what she did because she put her life on the line every time she went from the North to the South,” Johnson said.

Tubman spent her life surrounded by slavery. She lived an abusive childhood with her mother serving as a domestic slave. She and her siblings were seperated, and after earning her own living, she dedicated her time to freeing people from the life she once lived.

“Harriet Tubman, you know, changed the course of America. She’s a true american hero and she’s someone who’s finally getting the recognition that she deserves,” said Courtney Kasper, Visitor Experience Manager, NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center.

Tubman has roots right here in Auburn — spending her final years living on South Street — her grave site, church, and home are all here. However, her story reaches far beyond CNY, still touching others.

“To never be afraid, and that when you believe in something so strongly that you fight for it and you just persist. she persisted,” said Dr. Kate Larson, Author and Keynote Speaker.

Dr. Larson has spent 25 years studying Tubman’s life. In her speech Sunday, she went through a timeline of her accomplishments. There were also perfromances from Genesee Elementary School students, as part of their project, “Harriet Was Here in My Backyard.” This initiative led by smithsonian music educators, Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino of Magpie and Martha Swan. 

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