As part of their Black History Month studies, more than 90 seventh-graders from Middle Township Middle School visited a local spot dedicated to one of the most important Black history figures of all.
The virtual tour of the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cape May was a special opportunity for the students, who were able to see the exhibits before the general public.
The pandemic delayed the museum’s opening, which is now set for this summer. Governor Murphy helped celebrate the museum’s completion during the Harriet Tubman Emancipation Day Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in September.
Virtually guided by former Middle Township teacher and Superintendent of Woodbine Schools Lynda Towns, students learned about African culture and Black history in Cape May. The tour also covered the history of slavery in New Jersey and Harriet Tubman’s profound impact during that time, including her time spent in Cape May.
Tubman was the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad, guiding more than 300 slaves to freedom. According to the museum’s website, Tubman lived and worked in Cape May in the early 1850s. The money she earned working as a cook or in hotels funded her legendary rescue trips.
While the students were familiar with Tubman’s story, Towns offered more insight into the abolitionist’s life, and the echoing impact of her work. Students were able to see sculptures of Tubman, along with artifacts from different historical period.
“The museum does a great job of showing the timeline of Black history beginning with the African culture, showing the horrors of the slave trade and slavery itself,” said seventh-grade teacher William Handley, who organized the tour. “You can see a snapshot of slavery's impact on New Jersey and of course Harriet Tubman's role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and her connection to Cape May. You also learn about other figures in Cape May and their impact on the Underground Railroad. Finally, visitors will learn the story of Black history in the city of Cape May from its origins to today.”
There is more recognition to come for Tubman, who is set to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.
Students wrote rave reviews thanking the museum for the experience and the tour. One said, “Your museum left no stone unturned. It went over everything about Black history. More importantly, it presented that information in a unique and fun way that no one could replicate!”
Another student added, “It was an amazing experience. It had many interesting exhibits and was very informative.”