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Proclamation Honors Harriet Tubman, Buffalo Soldier

By: D.L. Chandler | , Special to Informer | 3/24/2013, 4:03 p.m.

President Barack Obama will sign a Proclamation on Monday that designates five new national monuments under the Antiquities Act. Two of the new monuments include the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland and the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio.

President Barack Obama has used the second term of his presidency to make a series of moves that have figured prominently in defining the African-American experience.

Tubman is perhaps the most-well-known "conductor" of the Railroad, which helped enslaved African Americans gain freedom. Stewart's Canal, the tunnel dug by the hands of freedmen and slaves, will be a part of the park's many exhibits. The park will also be the site of the home of Jacob Jackson, a free man who used an elaborate system to assist Tubman in communicating with family and friends.

The new site will house the State of Maryland's Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park Visitor Center and will open to the public in 2015. The monument will be maintained by the National Park Service.

The monument to Col. Young will serve to historically preserve his home. Young is the third African American to graduate from the West Point military academy, and he was also the first black man to receive the rank of colonel and also made history as an early park service administrator before the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916.

Since Young was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, the group made Young's home available to the government, jump starting the development of the monument and historic site. Located in the town of Wilberforce, Ohio, the National Park Service will maintain the grounds.

Three additional monuments will be announced and they include: First State National Monument in Delaware; Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State.