History in the making: Harriet Tubman museum set to open in Cape May

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A museum dedicated to the life of civil rights pioneer Harriet Tubman is currently under construction in Cape May. But the organizers say that they need the public’s help to make the dream a reality.

The museum will be located in the Howell House, which was previously used by the Macedonia Baptist Church next door. The organizers say that Tubman has a long history with Cape May.

“We can document that she was here in 1852. She was working as a domestic. She was working as a cook and also a domestic in homes to make money to fund her missions to free fugitive slaves,” says museum executive director Cynthia Mullock. “She also developed a headquarters here in Cape May.”

The museum and the church are preparing a collection of historical pieces that will showcase historic African artifacts and then move into the main gallery.

“That will go into the Civil War and some of the African American Cape May soldiers who were in the Civil War. That will move into the abolitionists. That will move into the Harriet Tubman presence in Cape May,” says church liaison Lynda Anderson-Towns.

Organizers say that they are about halfway to the $500,000 needed to open the museum. They say that the public has been helping with donations.

The museum is set to open on June 19 – the day slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865. Anderson-Towns says that she hopes that the museum inspires the public.

“I am hopeful they will have that spirit of ‘Even slavery of one time was legal but wasn't right’ and I hope they leave the museum feeling like, ‘I have the strength that if it isn't right I’ll raise my voice. I’ll take the risk that Harriet took to make a difference, to make it better,’” Anderson-Towns says.

A gala event will be held next week in South Orange to raise money for the museum. More information can be found on the museum’s website.

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