JUNETEENTH: A CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM!

Encore: June 19, 2020

Today marks Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States and a holiday that’s particularly important for African Americans. Also known as “Freedom Day.” June 19 is observed annually across the country in 46 states. This year, the holiday takes on a special significance for our nation’s history. Harriett Tubman was one of the leaders of the abolishment movement and former slave. To celebrate the emancipation of slaves in the United States, we take you north of the city, to Auburn, New York to explore Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy, from the Underground Railroad to her final resting place.

Aired on June 19, 2018 and June 19, 2020.

TRANSCRIPT

> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO TONTD, TODAY IS JUNETEENTH, INDEPENDENCE DAY.

FOR SOME NOT IN THE KNOW IT'S KNOWN AS FREEDOM DAY.

A UNIQUELY AMERICAN HOLIDAY THAT KMEM RATES THE JUNE 19th, 1865 ANNOUNCEMENT THAT SLAVERY WOULD BE ABOLISHED IN THE U.S. STATE OF TEXAS, AND CELEBRATES THE EMANCIPATION OF ENSLAVED AFRICAN-AMERICANS THROUGH THE CONFEDERACY.

JUNE 19th IS A SPECIAL DAY OF OBSERVANCE IN 45 STATES.

ONE OF THE LEADERS OF ABOLITION MOVEMENT AND FORMER SLAVE HARRIET TUBMAN MADE 13 MISSIONS TO RESCUE APPROXIMATELY 70 SLAVES, FAMILY AND FRIENDS FROM BONDAGE, PULLING TOGETHER A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO WERE FIERCELY PASSIONATE ABOUT ENDING SLAVERY.

WITH THEIR HELP, TUBMAN USING A NETWORK OF SAFE HOUSE OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD BECAME KNOWN AS THE MOST HE IS OF HER PEOPLE WHO NEVER LOST A PASSENGER ON THEIR WAY TO FREEDOM.

BUT FEW KNOW TUBMAN'S HISTORY HERE IN NEW YORK.

SPECIFICALLY, AUBURN, A PLACE JUST 4.5 HOURS NORTHWEST OF MANHATTAN THAT EVENTUALLY BECAME HER HOME.

IT'S THE TOWN WHERE SHE LIVED OUT LATER YEARS, CONTINUED TO HELP OTHERS AND BECAME AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE ZION CHURCH AND THE LOCATION THAT WOULD BECOME HER FINAL RESTORING PLACE.

BUT HER LEGACY CONTINUES LONG AFTER HER PASSING.

WHEN SHE PASSED IN 1913 SHE LEFT THE PROPERTY TO THE CHURCH SHE LOVED, THE TUB MANY HOUSE WAS TLARD A LANDMARK IN 1974 WITH THE AME ZION CHURCH SHOURLDING THE BULK OF THE MAINTENANCE.

THEN IN 2014, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SIN SIGNED A MEASURE MAKING THE HOME AND THE TUBMAN HOMESTEAD PART OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

THIS IS THE ONLY AREA IN THE NATION -- A LOT OF PLACES CLAIM HARRIET TUBMAN.

HER NAME IS POPULAR NOW.

BUT THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE HARRIET TUBMAN LIVED WORKED AND DIED.

ALL OF HER ART FACTS ARE HERE IN THIS AREA IN CONJUNCTION WITH SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY WE ARE TRYING TO RESTORE FOR A LARGER MUSEUM.

WE WILL BE RIGHT HERE IN AUBURN, NEW YORK, MAKING SURE THAT THE LEGACY AND THE LAND ON WHICH SHE SERVED AND WORKED AND DIED WILL BE PRESERVED FOREVER.

IT WAS NEW YORK THAT GAVE SOLACE, COMFORT, RESOURCES, MONEY AND PHYSICAL HELP.

THE JOHN BROWN WAS A MEDICAL CENTER ON THIS SAME PROPERTY THAT HARRIET TUBMAN STARTED SO THAT PERSONS COULD RECEIVE THE KIND OF MEDICAL TREATMENT THAT THEY HAD BEEN DENIED THE TIMES THAT THEY WERE IN SLAVERY OR THE MALADIES AND ILLNESSES THAT THEY MAY HAVE THE CONTRACTED COMING THE GREAT DISTANCE BY FOOT, MOST OF THE TIME, THAT THEY HAD TO MAKE IN ORDER TO GET TO NEW YORK.

NEW YORK WAS THE LAST BASTION OF REST FOR THEM BEFORE MAKING THAT FINAL PUSH INTO CANADA.

1859, THE PROPERTY WE ARE ON RIGHT NOW WAS ACQUIRED BY TUBMAN.

NOT ONLY TO LIVE OUT HER FINAL DAYS BUT TO BUILD A PLACE WHERE PERSONS WHO WERE AT RETIREMENT, BEFORE SOCIAL SECURITY COULD FIND A PLACE WHERE THEY COULD PEND THEIR FINAL DAYS.

THIS IS SACRED GROUND.

YES.

THIS IS HOLY GROUND.

WE ARE TRYING TO RESTORE NOW THE OLD BRICK HOUSE THAT YOU SEE UP HERE.

THAT'S IN THE PROCESS NOW OF RESTORATION.

GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS PROMISED FUNDS FROM THE STATE AND THE LEGISLATURE HAS BEEN VERY COOPERATIVE IN ASSISTING US SO THAT WE COULD RESTORE THE HOME AND THE BARN, HER BARN.

THEY CAN EXPECT SOME PICTURES AND ART I FACTS OF HISTORY THAT THEY HAD NOT SEEN.

THEY WILL BE ABLE TO SEE SOME OF THE ACTUAL FURNITURE, THE ACTUAL BIBLE OF HARRIET TUBMAN.

THEY HAVE ALL OF THESE SMALL MEMENTOS OF HER LIFE IN SNIPPETS.

WE ARE IN THE PROCESS HOWEVER OF PROPOSING A MUCH LARGER WELCOME CENTER WHEN WE HAVE THE NECESSARY FUNDING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

SHE GOT UP EARLY.

THAT'S RIGHT.

BEFORE THE BREAK OF DAY.

WHEN I HEARD ABOUT HARRIET TUBMAN, SHE WAS A BAD SISTER.

OH, YES, SHE WAS.

BECAUSE HARRIET TUBMAN HAD A WAY IN WHICH SHE WOULD LEAVE ON SATURDAY NIGHT.

BECAUSE IF SHE LEFT ON SATURDAY NIGHT NEWSPAPERS WOULD NOT REPORT RUN AWAYS UNTIL MONDAY MORNING.

[ APPLAUSE ]

THIS PROCESS, COME TO THIS PLACE, BEING ON THE GROUND, LOOKING AT AT ARTIFACTS HAVE GIVE AND REED SENSE OF CONNECTION WITH THIS PERSON WHO WE THINK OF BEING LARGER THAN LIFE.

BUT HARRIET TUBMAN WAS ONLY 4'11'. SO MAJORITY LUTHER KING JUNIOR NOT GREAT OF STATURE PHYSICALLY BUT GREAT OF PROMINENCE AND GREAT OF CHARACTER.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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