SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Relatives of abolitionist and civil rights pioneer Harriet Tubman gathered today at Wilson Park to support a proposal to construct the Harriet Tubman Memorial Freedom Bridge in Syracuse – an iconic structure that will reconnect Syracuse’s urban core, while paying tribute to the renowned abolitionist and political activist from Central New York.
Tubman family members were joined by 3rd generation Garland Brothers Funeral Home business owner and 16th District Onondaga County Legislature candidate, Charles Garland, and local community members. The objective of the Harriet Tubman Memorial Freedom Bridge is to help provide racial equity for local residents and to reconnect the community by all modes of transportation.
“The addition of the Harriet Tubman Memorial Freedom Bridge to the community grid represents a comprehensive solution that knits our community and neighborhoods back together, said Pauline Copes Johnson, Tubman Family Matriarch. “The Harriet Tubman Memorial Freedom Bridge would create something that all residents can be proud of and honor one of the most influential civil rights icons in American history. I’m proud to be here today with family members to propose this exciting new project.”
The genesis of the Harriet Tubman Memorial Freedom Bridge concept dates back to 2008 when the New York State DOT announced a now outdated ‘Community Grid’ stand-alone plan to demolish a segment of Interstate 81 that was built 60 years ago through three predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Syracuse.
Garland commented, “By keeping thousands of cars off of our urban neighborhoods’ streets and thereby reducing air pollution among one of the most vulnerable populations in our city, too, the Harriet Tubman Memorial Freedom Bridge will directly improve the lives of the residents here. The symbolic value of the bridge also effectively reconciles our past, present and future and serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration. We look forward to working with new Governor Kathy Hochul and our federal representatives to bring this to fruition. ”
Eighty five (85) family members signed the attached letter to President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Congressman Katko and other federal, state and local officials indicating their strong support for the future of I-81. Additional details can be accessed here: https://harriettubmanbridge.com/