Tubman springs back to life

Published 11:22 am Thursday, February 23, 2012

JACKSON — The voice and legacy of Harriet Tubman will once again come to life.

On Friday, renowned storyteller Joyce Grear will return to Northampton County where she will relay the life and legacy of Harriet “Moses” Tubman during a 7 p.m. program at the Cultural and Wellness Center near Jackson.

As a part of Black History Month, Grear made her first Northampton County appearance last year telling the life story of Tubman who was born a slave in 1820 in Dorchester County, Md. and fled to her freedom in 1849. Tubman is most known for her work in the Underground Railroad. In a 10-year span, she made 19 trips to the South and escorted more than 300 slaves to freedom. Tubman was also a nurse in the Civil War as well as a Suffragist and Civil Rights activist.

Admission is free for the program, organized by the Northampton County Cultural Arts Committee.

In addition to her Friday night portrayal of the legendary “Conductor of the Underground Railroad,” Grear will also be performing for Northampton County Public Schools students.

“This time it’s going to be a little bit different, we want our students in the county to learn about their culture and history,” said Judy Collier, executive director of the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s American history and they need to know it.”

Before her public performance, Grear will be visiting 5th-8th graders at Conway Middle School and Northampton County High School-West. Classroom study guides will also be available for teachers to distribute.

Collier said the program, which had an attendance of more than 100, was very successful last year.

In addition to her own performances, Grear teaches drama, writes plays, and directs the children of The Family and Neighborhood Institute of North Carolina, Inc. She uses stories as a teaching tool.

Known as the “griot” of Wilmington, she graduated from Williston Senior High School in 1966. Grear served as artist in residence (1980-1987) for the City of Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department. Under her guidance, the special populations department grew to include a wide range of community-based programs and projects. She founded and co-founded: The Wilmington’s Children’s Theatre, The Senior Players, Art Camp, and The Annual Youth Storytelling Festival. Grear has also toured Pender and Brunswick counties as a Living History Character and storyteller.

Since 1987, Grear has toured primarily throughout the Southeast, New England, and to South Korea and Japan for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools. She has appeared as a featured teller in many storytelling festivals, to include the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesbourgh, Tennessee and the National Black Storytelling Festival in Oakland, California.

For more information contact the Northampton Cultural Arts Committee at (252) 534-1383.