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Canal Corporation vessel named in honor of Harriet Tubman

tubman tug 3.jpg
Max Schulte
The New York State Canal Corporation dedicated a tugboat at Corn Hill in Rochester in honor of Harriet Tubman.

The New York State Canal Corporation is in Rochester this week for a conference, and among the activities on Tuesday was to name one of their tugboats the 'Harriet Tubman' in honor of the famed abolitionist.

The dedication at Corn Hill Landing happened during the bicentennial year of Tubman’s birth, and not far from the home she had in Auburn, a community where Tubman is buried.

The significance of honoring her ancestor means a lot to Geraldine Howard, the great-great-great niece of Harriet Tubman.

At Tuesday's dedication, Howard talked about the very rough life Tubman endured when she was enslaved.

“It was no wonder why my Aunt Harriet chose to make a difference in the lives of herself and her family, when she decided she had to be a free woman,” said Howard. “If it had not been for her bravery to leave the plantation and choose her freedom, I, or should I say, many of us, would not be here today.”

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Max Schulte
Geraldine Howard, great, great, great niece of Harriet Tubman at the naming dedication of the Canal Corporation tug boat named in her aunt's honor.

The Canal Corporation named one of its ‘push tugs’ which is based in Lyons and does various tasks on the canal, including pushing non-motorized boats during transit, after Harriet Tubman. It is also used for things like dredging and buoy placement.

That information pleases Shirley Green, Commissioner of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Human Services.

“It is clearly a working boat, not some fancy yacht,” noted Green. “And that seems fitting too. I can only hope her spirit travels with it, and that she knows, here in Rochester, we have brought her story into the light.”

In a statement, Governor Kathy Hochul said that New York “shines as a beacon of freedom and human rights for the rest of the nation,” and she said the state’s history is “filled with iconic women,” including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Edie Windsor.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
Max Schulte is responsible for creating video and photo elements for WXXI News and its digital spaces. He also assists with news and public affairs coverage, digital-first video content, and studio productions.