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Schumer Hails New National Park Service Unit Celebrating An American Hero in Her Hometown; Schumer Passed Legislation Establishing The Park And Lobbied Federal Officials To Follow Through With Final Approval

Schumer Pushed DOJ and DOI Officials To Approve Land Transfer, Which Is Now Completed, So The Park Can Be Formally Established Under DOI as a unit of NPS

Schumer: Tubman Park Is a Long Overdue Recognition Of An Extraordinary American

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the Department of the Interior (DOI) has completed the land transfer agreement that will allow NPS to formally establish the Harriet Tubman National Historic Park in Auburn, New York. The announcement follows Schumer’s successful efforts to ensure that DOI officials complete the final steps necessary for approval for the park. Schumer has been a longtime advocate for the establishment of the new historical park celebrating the life of Harriet Tubman at the site of her home in Central New York. He authored, introduced, and passed legislation authorizing the park and has lobbied federal officials to finalize the project. Last year, he successfully pushed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sign a land transfer agreement allowing the site to be established as an official unit of the National Park Service. With the land transfer agreement now complete, The Tubman Home awaits signature from the Secretary of Interior for formal establishment.

“As a New Yorker and an American, I’m deeply proud to see Tubman Park finally become a reality,” said Senator Schumer. “The Tubman Historic Park in Auburn, New York will be a magnet for visitors that will tell the amazing story of Harriet Tubman’s life, an extraordinary American whose story deserves to be shared with our children and grandchildren. This park will serve that solemn purpose and preserve her legacy for countless generations to come.”

Schumer has long fought to make Tubman Park a reality. Most recently, he wrote to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell urging her to complete the land transfer needed to secure final approval. Previously, he successfully pushed Attorney General Loretta Lynch to sign the General Agreement allowing the Harriet Tubman Residence in Auburn to be formally designated as a Unit of the National Park Service. In addition, Schumer authored and passed the legislation authorizing the establishment of the park. This legislation was passed as a part of the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included a provision that created two National Historical Parks, one in New York and one in Maryland.

The Auburn park will commemorate the later years of Harriet Tubman’s life, her work in the women’s suffrage movement and  her tireless commitment to providing for elderly African Americans. The Harriet Tubman Residence in Auburn is a historic landmark in a region with a strong history of individuals rooted in social activism and justice. An escaped slave herself, Tubman used her Auburn home to shelter her parents and many African Americans who escaped slavery – some of whom she guided herself. The Maryland park will trace Tubman’s early life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she was born and later escaped from slavery to become one of the leaders on the Underground Railroad.

Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, where she spent nearly 30 years as a slave.  She escaped slavery in 1849, but returned to the Eastern Shore several times over the course of 10 years to lead hundreds of African Americans to freedom in the North.  Known as “Moses” by African-American and white abolitionists, she reportedly never lost a “passenger” on the Underground Railroad. In Maryland, The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park would include historically important landscape in Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot counties that are evocative of the life of Harriet Tubman.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to the Secretary of the Interior appears below:

Dear Secretary Jewell,

I write to urge the Department of the Interior (DOI) to allocate all available resources to ensure the establishment of the Harriet Tubman National Historic Park in Auburn, New York occurs before the end of this year.  Once Harriet Tubman National Historic Park is established, it will be eligible for National Park Service (NPS) funding for operational and capital improvements to be undertaken that are necessary for the unit to be open to the public as a National Park.  This is why it is imperative that you finalize the establishment, so we can celebrate another huge milestone in the opening of this important historical park and provide it the necessary resources to expedite its availability to the public.  

As you know, The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in New York will be located in Auburn and commemorates the life of Harriet Tubman where she was active in the women’s suffrage movement and in providing for the welfare of aged African Americans.  This park was made possible by a provision in the FY 15 version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  In order for the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park to open to the public as a unit of the National Park Service, it must first be officially established by acquiring a sufficient quantity of land, or interests in land, to constitute a manageable park unit. It has come to my attention that the AME Zion Church and Harriet Tubman Home have recently received approval from the New York State Attorney General to release the church for sale to the National Park Service (NPS). Now that New York State has approved this petition, the necessary land transfer can be completed, which will allow for the official establishment of the park. 

Once establishment occurs, crucial first steps including the creation of a brochure, park website, and preservation plans for the Parker Street properties require funding through the DOI. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the community have also invested significant resources in making the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park a reality.  I urge you to have all of the available resources dedicated to completing the land transfer so that we can officially establish this historic park a unit of the Park Service, while also allowing for crucial federal investments to begin as soon as possible.

Again, I urge you to stand at the ready to establish the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park before the end of the year, so that the important legacy of Harriet Tubman can be told through the preservation of the site which includes the Tubman Home for the Aged, the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church, and Harriet Tubman's former residence. All of these pieces will help the park tell the important story of Harriet Tubman’s heroic life for future generations. 

I appreciate your attention to this important request and look forward to seeing this unit of the National Park Service become a reality as soon as possible. 


Charles E. Schumer  

United States Senator