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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 14, 2009

HEARING ON SCHUMER LEGISLATION TO CREATE HARRIET TUBMAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK IN AUBURN WILL TAKE PLACE IN SENATE TOMORROW


Hearing Is A Key Step On The Road To Securing Legislation's Final Approval

Legislation Would Bring $7.5 Million to Region for Preservation of Sites Such as Harriet Tubman Home, Tubman Home for the Aged Among Others

After Study and Collaboration with National Parks Service, Bill Would Provide Funds for Designing Exhibits, Preserving Tubman's Legacy and Boosting Local Tourism

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that a hearing on his legislation to create a National Historical Park preserving and promoting the life of Harriet Ross Tubman, the most famous “conductor” of the anti-slavery resistance network known as the Underground Railroad will be held tomorrow, July 15th in the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks.   The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park and The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park Act will establish two parks, one in New York and one in Maryland. The National Historic Park in New York will be located in Auburn and will focus on her later years where she was active in the suffrage movement and where she established one of the first incorporated homes for aged African Americans. The National Historic Park in Maryland will trace her life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she was one of the leaders on the Underground Railroad.  
 
The hearing is a key step on the legislation’s road to becoming law.  After it is approved in the subcommittee, it will go to the full Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and then to the Senate floor for a vote.  Hearings on the House version of the legislation have already occurred. 
 “We are making steady progress in our efforts to put Auburn and its unique connection to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad firmly on the map of must-see places for history lovers everywhere” said Schumer.  “I have no doubt that the Senators at the hearing tomorrow will recognize the significance of the work we are doing, and look forward to seeing this legislation pass the Senate, so we can get to work creating a National Park in Auburn to honor the work of this American hero.”
In New York, the bill authorizes $7.5 million in grants for the preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of the properties. The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park would include important historical structures in Auburn, New York. They include Tubman’s home, the Home for the Aged that she established, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and the Fort Hill Cemetery where she is buried.  The legislation will also help boost tourism in the region by providing funds for the development and construction of interpretive historical materials. Thematically linking several historical sites will help visitors better understand Harriet Tubman's important contribution to Central New York and the United States as a whole.
 
 Harriett Tubman has a deep history in both Maryland and New York. Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, where she spent nearly 30 years as a slave. She escaped slavery in 1849, but returned for more than 10 years to Dorchester and Caroline counties where she led hundreds of African Americans to freedom. In 1857, Harriet relocated her parents from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada to Auburn, NY.  Soon after, she purchased land in Auburn and spent the rest of her life there.  In 1913, she was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY.
 
Finally, the bill also authorizes a new grants program.  Under the program, the National Park Service would award competitive grants to historically Black colleges and universities, predominately Black institutions, and minority serving institutions for research into the life of Harriet Tubman and the African-American experience during the years that coincide with the life of Harriet Tubman.  The legislation authorizes $200,000 annually for this scholarship program. 
 
The legislation was drafted in consultation with the National Parks Service who undertook a multi-year study to determine the best ways to preserve and promote the legacy of Harriet Tubman in New York and Maryland.  
 
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