FLEMING | One hundred years after the death of Harriet Tubman, 2013 has been known by locals as the Year of Tubman.
And Auburn has not stopped celebrating.
On Friday, dozens of people gathered at the Springside Inn in Fleming for the keynote banquet of "Harriet Tubman: No Longer Underground Centennial Symposium." Hosted by Cayuga Community College, the weekend-long event was planned by several members of the community as a way to continue commemorating Harriet Tubman and the contributions she had to the city and the country.
The evening featured speakers involved with the planning and purpose of the symposium, including Rev. Paul Carter of the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church in Auburn, who also manages the Tubman Home on South Street. Melina Carnicelli, former mayor of Auburn and current CCC Board of Trustees member, also addressed the crowd about the significance of hosting the event and honoring the legacy of Harriet Tubman.
"It brings honor on our college as an important institution of higher learning, and it certainly brings honor to Harriet Tubman and to Auburn," she said.
The dinner was followed by a presentation from keynote speaker Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, author of "Bound For the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero." The 2003 biography of Tubman marked the first time a book had been written about her life in nearly 60 years.
Larson spoke of Tubman's life, starting with her birth and childhood, and detailed the struggles she endured to eventually earn her freedom from slavery in the 19th century. Her presentation included photos and documents she uncovered about Tubman's life during the years of research she conducted before publishing her biography and she spoke highly of the bravery and determination Tubman was known to have.
"Family, faith, freedom and community defined Tubman and compelled her to do what she did," Larson said. "She knew freedom could be had, she knew what it looked like and that it was a possibility."
The abridged history of Tubman's life that was delivered Friday evening will be followed with Saturday's continuation of the symposium, during which historians will present recent findings and new insights about Tubman. As the weekend continues, the community will be reminded that the legacy of Harriet Tubman will live on for years to come and that the city of Auburn should never stop celebrating her memory.
"We'll honor the legacy of Harriet Tubman," Carnicelli said, "that is no longer underground."