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Rice, Testa, Turner Bill to Designate the Howell House as Harriet Tubman Museum Advances

Trenton –Legislation, which would designate the Howell House in Cape May as the official New Jersey Harriet Tubman Museum, advanced from the Senate today. The bill is sponsored by Senator Ronald Rice, Senator Michael Testa and Senator Shirley K. Turner.

“Most folks in New Jersey do not realize the history Cape May County played in the Underground Railroad, let alone that Harriet Tubman once called it home,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “Tubman is a significant part of American history, and I am proud to sponsor the state’s dedication of this house to her legacy. I want to thank Senator Testa and Assemblyman McClellan for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this historic piece of legislation.”

“Harriet Tubman was fiercely committed to equality for all people, black or white, male or female,” said Senator Testa (R-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “Through her tireless persistence, this determined woman helped bring about two historic society advancements that changed American society forever – she personally helped lead dozens of southern slaves to freedom in the north, and she was instrumental in the women’s suffrage movement.”

“Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist, a hero and a conductor of the Underground Railroad that ran through New Jersey. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition. Ever since they began renovating the Howell House, there has been mounting excitement around the new museum, even being highlighted as one of the most anticipated museum openings of 2020 by the Smithsonian Magazine,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “While the opening has been delayed due to coronavirus, I look forward to touring the museum once they are able to open their doors. This formal designation is a small token of our gratitude for the work their team has done to memorialize Harriet’s time in New Jersey, and educate us on its significance.”

“We are blessed to see the day where we can honor a true American hero right here in our back yard,” and Assemblyman McClellan (R-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland), the Assembly sponsor of the bill. “Harriet Tubman’s footprint on our community is everlasting. Our neighbors came together with a wonderful idea to honor Harriet’s memory and pass down her legacy for local students to learn the impacts of slavery and the importance of equality.”

The Macedonia Baptist Church in Cape May was organized in 1895 to create a place of worship for African American residents. The congregation has owned the Howell House, one of the oldest houses in the city, since 1909. Starting in 2018, the house has been renovated into a museum to honor Harriet Tubman, who lived in Cape May during the 1850s.

The bill, S-2585/A-3201, was released from the Senate by a vote of 39-0.