Art & History Intertwined: Harriet Tubman

The much anticipated film Harriet hits theaters this week and chronicles the life story of Harriet Tubman who led missions to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad.

Delmarva plays a significant role as many points along our Chesapeake Bay played a role in this network of trails used by enslaved people escaping to the north. Tubman was born and lived in slavery for 25 years in Dorchester County, MD.

Recently, artist Michael Rosato captured this history through art in a mural of Tubman on the side of the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center.

Mural by Michael Rosato. Photo courtesy of Dorchester County
Office of Tourism

The mural is powerful and appears as if Tubman is offering you her hand to join her on this quest of freedom. According to, Rosato describes what he is trying to convey through the mural:

“The inspiration comes from that moment when a slave has to make a decision to go. This incredibly strong and compassionate woman is about to offer that hand for that freedom. And I thought, how do I capture that moment where it all happens, when the risk was taken to run from the slave owner, to a woman taking a risk to bring you through to the other side. This is that special moment when the hand is being offered. She has to be compassionate, but has to assert a certain authority.”

Michael Rosato, Muralist

The mural was commissioned by the Dorchester Center for the Arts for the 50th Anniversary of the Maryland State Arts Council. It is a partnership project between Dorchester Center for the Arts, Alpha Genesis CDC, The Maryland State Arts Council, and the Harriet Tubman Organization, with additional support from Downtown Cambridge.

Watch the film right where her story took place at the Cambridge Premier Cinemas which preview shows on October 31st. Cambridge also will be hosting a Harriet Tubman Movie Premiere Party on November 1st with a Harriet Tubman re-enactor, gospel choir, storyteller, spoken word, drumming, and more.

If you are inspired by the film, you can explore Tubman’s life and journey along the Eastern Shore along 125 miles of scenic byway along with a visit to the park and Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. The Harriet Tubman Byway offers guided audio tours and maps.

Art tells the story of this American hero through film that brings her to life for us and through the mural that conveys her enduring spirit. Come and be immersed and inspired by Harriet along our Delmarva bays and byways.

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