Wesley Wofford is honored to unveil his most significant monument to date. This 9-foot Harriet Tubman “The Journey to Freedom” sculpture was originally installed in a private building in Dallas, Texas. Harriet personifies a role model and hero. The Wofford Sculpture Studio is proud to commemorate the resilience and contributions of strong women throughout history.
This 9-foot sculpture honors and pays tribute to Harriet Tubman's commitment to and resilience in the fight for freedom. Harriet is confidently leading a slave girl on The Underground Railroad to freedom. She is leaning into the wind with her shoulder, chin down, and bracing herself against the elements. Her eyes are cut formidably up, anticipating the next part of the journey. The wind illustrates the peril of the journey but is also a metaphor for the intense opposition she faced.
Harriet's dress is protectively enveloping the girl, billowing like a flag. This represents all of the legal protections afforded to every United States citizen - a symbol of the future equality to come.The contours of the base are the Maryland/Delaware Peninsula where Harriet was enslaved, eventually escaped, and continued to return for her freedom raids. The dramatic step up/cut is the Pennsylvania state line and the two are stepping out of the slave states to an elevated freedom.
Each hand on the sculpture signifies an attribute: Determination, Protection, Fear, and Trust. The slave girl is leaning out to get a better look at where Harriet is taking her with a look of trepidation on her face. The girl is gripping Harriet's right arm tightly but her delicate finger grasp is cautiously hopeful. The girl is off balance and tentatively taking a step forward- her left foot precariously hanging off a cliff, illustrating the danger and peril of the journey. The shackles are broken and the atrocities of slavery are left forever behind.
To learn more, please visit: Wofford Sculpture Studio
Wesley Wofford, FNSS, is an American Figurative Sculptor and Academy Award winning artist born in 1972. His portraits and monumental installations can be found in Public and Private locations throughout the United States. Woffard's skill in sculpture is recognized on an international level with various awards and publications celebrating and featuring his work. In addition, Wesley is represented by galleries worldwide. His style emphasizes the sculptor’s presence characterized by a dynamic use of form and texture. Woffard is known for his intimate, emotionally charged portraits and passion provoking monuments.
To learn more about the artist, please visit: Wofford Sculpture Studio
Edited by Debra Michals, PhD | 2015
From: Women in History
Known as the “Moses of her people,” Harriet Tubman was enslaved, escaped, and helped others gain their freedom as a “conductor" of the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy, guerrilla soldier, and nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War. She is considered the first African American woman to serve in the military.
Tubman’s exact birth date is unknown, but estimates place it between 1820 and 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland. Born Araminta Ross, the daughter of Harriet Green and Benjamin Ross, Tubman had eight siblings. By age five, Tubman’s owners rented her out to neighbors as a domestic servant. Early signs of her resistance to slavery and its abuses came at age twelve when she intervened to keep her master from beating an enslaved man who tried to escape. She was hit in the head with a two-pound weight, leaving her with a lifetime of severe headaches and narcolepsy.
Although slaves were not legally allowed to marry, Tubman entered a marital union with John Tubman, a free black man, in 1844. She took his name and dubbed herself Harriet.
Contrary to legend, Tubman did not create the Underground Railroad; it was established in the late eighteenth century by black and white abolitionists. Tubman likely benefitted from this network of escape routes and safe houses in 1849, when she and two brothers escaped north. Her husband refused to join her, and by 1851 he had married a free black woman. Tubman returned to the South several times and helped dozens of people escape. Her success led slaveowners to post a $40,000 reward for her capture or death.
Tubman was never caught and never lost a “passenger.” She participated in other antislavery efforts, including supporting John Brown in his failed 1859 raid on the Harpers Ferry, Virginia arsenal.
Through the Underground Railroad, Tubman learned the towns and transportation routes characterizing the South—information that made her important to Union military commanders during the Civil War. As a Union spy and scout, Tubman often transformed herself into an aging woman. She would wander the streets under Confederate control and learn from the enslaved population about Confederate troop placements and supply lines. Tubman helped many of these individuals find food, shelter, and even jobs in the North. She also became a respected guerrilla operative. As a nurse, Tubman dispensed herbal remedies to black and white soldiers dying from infection and disease.
After the war, Tubman raised funds to aid freedmen, joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in their quest for women’s suffrage, cared for her aging parents, and worked with white writer Sarah Bradford on her autobiography as a potential source of income. She married a Union soldier Nelson Davis, also born into slavery, who was more than twenty years her junior. Residing in Auburn, New York, she cared for the elderly in her home and in 1874, the Davises adopted a daughter. After an extensive campaign for a military pension, she was finally awarded $8 per month in 1895 as Davis’s widow (he died in 1888) and $20 in 1899 for her service. In 1896, she established the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged on land near her home. Tubman died in 1913 and was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.