Piece of a vandalized Harriet Tubman statue returned

The staff pried from the hands of a statue of Harriet Tubman by vandals in December has been returned to the Annapolis, Maryland, museum where it has been on display.

Officials from the Banneker-Douglass Museum said the piece that was broken from the statue arrived in the mail addressed to the Annapolis Police Department.

Now, the staff at the museum is studying the condition of the staff to see if it can be reattached to the statue that stands in front of the museum as part of the exhibit called “The Radical Voice of Blackness Speaks of Resistance and Joy.”

Chanel Johnson, executive director of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Banneker-Douglass Museum, told WTOP that the initial theft and vandalism was devastating, but “we were overjoyed, over the moon, excited, grateful” to hear the piece had been recovered.

Harriet Tubman statue
“Araminta with Rifle and Vévé” (Courtesy Banneker-Douglass Museum)

The statue has been on loan to the museum by Goya Contemporary Gallery. It was created by Dr. Joyce J. Scott, a Maryland artist.

The Annapolis Police Department has been working to find the vandals, but Johnson believes that due to the outpouring of support to the museum that came from the community, state and local officials and the police department, “they got scared and mailed it back.”

Johnson said while the vandalism was disturbing, “You know honestly, I knew in my spirit that we were going to get it back. With all of the attention, all of the support that we were getting, sooner or later, this was going to come to light.”

WTOP reached out to the Annapolis police for information on the investigation and the return of the piece.

Johnson was asked if the statue can be completely restored. “We don’t know the answer to that yet, but we’re working on it. I’m prayerful,” she said, that whatever repairs are made that they can be done right.

The statue, entitled “Araminta with Rifle and Vévé” is at least 11 feet tall, according to information on the Goya Contemporary Gallery website. The vévé was the staff that was stolen and returned.

Tubman was born Araminta Ross around 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland. Born into slavery, she escaped and was known as a Union spy, a scout, and a conductor on the Underground Railroad used by enslaved people to escape bondage.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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