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Harriet Tubman Day

Recognized by the US government in 1990, Harriet Tubman Day celebrates Tubman's heroic work towards the abolishment of slavery in the United States. WGSS's Harriet Tubman Day programming brings together Tubman scholars and artists to honor the legacy of the department's namesake.

Each year on March 10, the University of Maryland Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies hosts a commemorative event, bringing together scholars, activists, and artists to celebrate the legacy of Harriet Tubman. Each year is marked with a theme examining Tubman's influence.

Check out the archive of Harriet Tubman Day events below and read Dr. Michelle V. Rowley's 2023 retrospective on the first three years of our annual event

Program Archive

Harmonies of Liberty (2024)

Pink silhouette of Harriet Tubman filled with the lyrics of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" adorns the poster for Harmonies of Liberty


This year, our theme, “Harmonies of Liberty,” draws from James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice
and Sing.”

Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with harmonies of liberty

To call us together under the idea of “harmonies of liberty” is not an invocation to think the same
thing or sing the same note. Time taken to commemorate Harriet Tubman is time spent re-
envisioning communities and pathways to justice. We metaphorically draw on Black musical
traditions that come alive on the downbeat, subvert the expected meter, and deliberately improvise
in order to learn and teach each other how to walk out of time with the world (hostilities) around
us. We come together to improvise the solutions we need and find new ways of imagining

This year, we think about alternative pathways to justice in conversation with Brooklyn-based
artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. 

For more information check out the original webpage at:


Wanted: Harriet Tubman (2023)

A conversation with Nina Cooke John and Mike Alewitz

Image of Wanted: Harriet Tubman Poster, image of a light lantern, flowers

"Wanted: Harriet Tubman" considers the interplay between fugitivity and desire. From “wanted” as a fugitive from the law to “wanted” as a legacy and symbol, this year’s theme considers the politics of invoking Tubman’s identity. Our moderator for the evening is art historian and curator,  Adrienne L. Childs, who will be in conversation with muralist and labor activist, Mike Alewitz and architect/artist, Nina Cooke John about their work, process, and politics of representing Harriet Tubman within the public domain.

Event Program

Welcome - Neda Atanasoski, Chair,
Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Opening Remarks - Stephanie Shonekan, Dean,
College of Arts and Humanities

Remarks - Ernestine “Tina” Wyatt 
Great-great-great-grandniece of Harriet Ross Tubman

Presentation of the Harriet Tubman Design Award - Neda Atanasoski and Michelle V. Rowley 
Ji Young Park (Class of 2024) Artist, Recipient

Introduction of Speakers
Michelle V. Rowley,  Associate Professor, 
Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Harriet Tubman Day Organizer

“Wanted: Harriet Tubman” 
A Conversation with

Mike Alewitz Labor Activist, Muralist
Nina Cooke John Founding Principal, Studio Cooke John, Architect + Design
Adrienne L. Childs (Moderator) Adjunct Curator, The Phillips Collection; and 
Associate, W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University

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2nd Annual Harriet Tubman Day Celebration: Reclaiming Histories | Creating Futures (2022)

Image of Harriet Tubman and the title for the 2022 Harriet Tubman Day program Reclaiming Histories, Creating Futures

“Reclaiming Histories | Creating Futures” considers Harriet Tubman’s historical presence in Dorchester County, Maryland, before her self-emancipation and Tubman’s ongoing legacy towards “freedom” as a daily politic and practice. 

The department was joined by Dr. Julie Schablitsky, Chief Archaeologist with the Cultural Resources Division of the Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration, whose team has been excavating the site on which Ben Ross's (Tubman's father) cabin stood. 

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Live Event Recording

1st Annual Harriet Tubman Day Celebration (2021)

Flyer for Harriet Tubman day with a colorized image of her standing in a long dress. All text repeated in event description

The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies hosted the first annual celebration of Harriet Tubman Day—to mark the department’s name change—on Wednesday, March 10, from 1-3 p.m. Speakers included Ernestine (Tina) Wyatt, a descendant of Harriet Tubman and a UMD alum, as well as faculty and students who have been inspired to draw on Harriet Tubman’s legacy in their work.

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