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Name Our Middle School For Harriet Tubman

This petition had 832 supporters

We urge you to name Bethesda Chevy Chase Middle School #2 in honor of Harriet R. Tubman, a Maryland-born American hero.

We commend the Board of Education and the Naming Committee led by the new middle school’s principal for including Harriet Tubman on the list of recommended school names.  This recommendation appropriately recognizes Ms. Tubman’s historic role in freeing enslaved Marylanders, as well the need for more diversity in Montgomery County school names.  Moreover, of all of the proposed names on the list, Harriet Tubman best reflects the Board’s policy on naming school facilities.

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  According to the National Park Service, “Today considered a national hero, Tubman is best known for her role in assisting countless enslaved African Americans escape to freedom as a leading ‘conductor’ of the Underground Railroad – a secret network of northward-leading routes and safe houses.”  During the Civil War, Ms. Tubman served as a spy, scout, nurse, and cook, and she led a raid that freed more than 700 slaves. Following the war, she became an advocate for women’s suffrage.

Naming the middle school after Harriet Tubman is an excellent opportunity to address the lack of diversity in existing Montgomery Country Public School names.  It is important that our children see the wonderful diversity of our county, state and nation reflected in the people who our community holds up as role models by naming schools after them.  The Board of Education’s policy on naming school facilities recognizes this, providing: 

"It is preferred that school facilities be named for deceased distinguished persons who have made an outstanding contribution to the community, county, state, or nation. The Board of education will give strong consideration to names of women and minorities so that these are equitably represented among county school names" (emphasis added).

However, in a county that is 19 percent African American, and a state that is 30 percent African American, only one of the 46 schools named for individuals is named for an African-American woman.  Unlike Harriet Tubman, many of these 46 individuals have no connection to Maryland.

It is also important to note that Harriet Tubman Middle School will help to educate our children about the shameful legacy of slavery in our county, state and nation.  While Maryland officially apologized in 2007 for more than two centuries of slavery, Montgomery County does not have any public schools named after those who led the fight to end slavery, despite the fact that our state was the home of two of the best-known abolitionists and emancipated slaves, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass (at least two Maryland schools outside Montgomery County are named for Douglass).

In conclusion, we again urge you to name the new middle school in honor of Harriet Tubman, a distinguished and heroic African-American woman and Maryland native who unquestionably made outstanding contributions to our state and nation.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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