President Barack Obama has used the second term of his presidency to make a series of moves that have figured prominently in defining the African-American experience. After honoring Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks with a statue inside the U.S. Capitol building last month, President Obama will announce the designation of five monuments, two of which feature icons of Black History in Harriet Tubman (picture above) and Charles Young (pictured below).
On Monday (March 25th), Obama will sign proclamations to designate the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act. The new park will be housed in Maryland’s Eastern Shore of the famed Chesapeake Bay.
Tubman is perhaps the most-well-known “conductor” of the Railroad, which helped enslaved African Americans gain freedom. Stewart’s Canal, the tunnel dug by the hands of freedmen and slaves, will be a part of the park’s many exhibits. The park will also be the site of the home of Jacob Jackson, a free man who used an elaborate system to assist Tubman in communicating with family and friends.
The new site will house the State of Maryland’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park Visitor Center and will open to the public in 2015. The monument will be maintained by the National Park Service.
Also under the Antiquities Act, the President will sign another proclamation designating the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. This monument will serve to historically preserve the home of Col. Charles Young (pictured at right), the third African American to graduate from the West Point military academy. Young was also the first Black man to receive the rank of colonel and also made history as an early park service administrator before the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916.
Since Young was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, the group made Young’s home available to the government, jump starting the development of the monument and historic site. Located in the town of Wilberforce, Ohio, the National Park Service will maintain the grounds.
Three additional monuments will be announced and they include: First State National Monument in Delaware; Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State.