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Gold Award candidate inspires awareness, education in Harford about Harriet Tubman and Underground Railroad

About 40 people ranging in age from 7 to 70 gathered at the historic Hosanna School Museum in Darlington for a Girl Scout Gold Award Program “Walk in Their Shoes.”
About 40 people ranging in age from 7 to 70 gathered at the historic Hosanna School Museum in Darlington for a Girl Scout Gold Award Program “Walk in Their Shoes.” (Courtesy Rene Monaghan / Baltimore Sun)

About 40 people ranging in age from 7 to 70 gathered at The Historic Hosanna School Museum in Darlington for a Girl Scout Gold Award Program, “Walk in Their Shoes,” on Oct. 12.

The purpose of this project was to educate and inspire with the hope those attending would share with their community about their experiences and new knowledge about the topic of slavery and how it still affects the world today.

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“Avoiding honest conversation about this history has undermined our ability to build a nation where racial justice can be achieved,” Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, said.

The hope is that this program would inspire awareness, education and conversation.

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The Hosanna School Museum in Darlington is a fully restored two story rural schoolhouse built for African Americans in 1867. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its mission is to collect, preserve and interpret the history of Harford County through the lens of the African American experience within national contexts.

Griot, Janice Greene, portrayed Harriet Tubman and gave a moving performance that chronicled her life from her childhood enslaved on a plantation through her brave escape and heroism as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

“Harriet,” along with an actress portraying a Quaker woman, led participants on a hike at the nearby Mason-Dixon trail. The hike gave perspective about understanding the hardships freedom-seekers faced in their brave escape.

The program was modeled after the program “Lead on Harriet,” created by Dr. Debbie Woods of the Chesapeake Children’s Musuem, which is offered several times a year in Annapolis.

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Woods shared her time and resources and traveled up to Harford County to portray a Quaker woman as part of a trail walk on The Mason-Dixon Trail beginning at Glen Cove Marina, which is less than a mile from The Hosanna School Museum. The trail has a view at several points of the Susquehanna River, where freedom-seekers crossed to make their way to Cecil County and on to Delaware.

“When I learned about the Lead on Harriet program offered for Girl Scouts at the Chesapeake Children’s Museum in Annapolis, it inspired me to bring something similar to Harford County,” Beckett Ehrsam, Gold Award candidate from Troop 4047 in Fallston and the project manager, said.

Walk in Their Shoes provided information about the historic and courageous tales of freedom seekers who used hidden codes, constellations, quilts, messages in song and other inventive messages to find their way north.

Beckett had many strong female mentors to support her in planning this program including her project mentor, Bonita Holland-Buchanan, her troop leader Bonny Knudsen, Rene Monaghan, and Iris Barnes and Laura Jackson of The Hosanna School Museum. The program was paid for by fundraising and a grant from Toyota Financial Services.

Walk in Their Shoes was a step in working to create truth, justice and racial healing. One of the most important steps in moving beyond the legacy of enslavement is to educate ourselves.

The Girl Scout mission is to support girls in building courage confidence, character and young women who will make the world a better place. In the Harford County Community, Girl Scouts are visible selling cookies and participating in community service of all kinds. All of these experiences are so valuable in helping young girls who grow into women who advocate for positive change in the world.

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