You may have heard the legends, read books, or even seen the recent movie, “Harriet,” but now you can see a larger-than-life statue of the heroic figure at Historic Halifax State Historic Site in observance of Women’s History Month. The 9-foot-tall image of Harriet Tubman leading a girl to freedom will be unveiled by the site on Facebook Live Friday, March 5 at 2 p.m.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad statue, “The Journey to Freedom,” by award-winning sculptor Wesley Wofford, depicts Tubman confidently leading an enslaved girl to freedom, leaning into the wind bracing herself against the elements and a hostile world. The girl’s left foot precariously hangs off a precipice illustrating the dangers of the journey, but the shackles are broken, and slavery is left behind.
“We are so honored to have this monument to this singular woman and leader of the underground railroad here,” Site Manager Carl Burke observes. “The nearby Roanoke River allowed Halifax to play a significant role in the underground railroad, and it is fitting that this remarkable tribute is at our site.”
Historic Halifax has two designations on the Underground Railroad to Freedom Network and was a hub of activity for the maritime underground railroad. The Roanoke River was a route to freedom and the town of Halifax is listed as a district. The statue will sit in front of the visitor center until April 18.
The statue is an artist’s copy of an original private commission in Dallas. It is on an exhibit tour and next goes to New York and then to the Harriet Tubman Museum in New Jersey and will travel into 2022. Sculptor Wesley Wofford was a figurative sculptor in Hollywood who created realistic people and animals for more than 75 television shows and films, among then “Hannibal” and “Batman and Robin.” He is a fellow in the National Sculpture Society and the Portrait Sculpture Society. He moved to Cashiers, N.C. to establish a studio and pursue fine art sculpture.
“We are excited to offer this artwork to the people of eastern North Carolina and are thankful for the generosity of donors to make this possible,” Burke adds. The local nonprofit, Halifax Underground Railroad, provided funding to bring the statue to the historic site.
For additional information, call (252) 583-7191. Historic Halifax is located at 25 S. David St. Halifax, N.C. It is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Masks and social distancing are required. Historic Halifax is part of the Division of State Historic Sites within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.