The picture of a 3-year-old girl reaching for the hand of Harriet Tubman in an hyper-realistic mural painting in Dorchester County, Maryland, has gone viral on social media as people react to the shot’s powerful message.
Little Auriah Duncan, known as “Lovie” in her family, was walking around with her two grandmothers, Tracy and Tammy Lynndee when they encountered an unfinished mural of legendary abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman.
“Lovie is only 3. She loves to walk around town with us on pretty days to look and explore," Tracy told News4. "When she saw the mural, it startled her for a moment because she wasn't expecting it. Then she quickly asked if she could give her a high-five. She reached out and placed her hand on the hand.”
Tracy was quick enough to capture the special moment in a photo, and after sharing it on social media, the powerful image has garnered national attention, as thousands reflect on the significance of a little girl reaching out to one of the most iconic African American women in history.
The powerful painting was finished on Monday, and the artist responsible for such a masterpiece is Michael Rosato.
"This painting I wanted to be a young Harriet Tubman, young and full of energy and wanting to change the world..."
The 59-year-old was commissioned by the Dorchester Center for the Arts to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Maryland State Arts Council. It is located on the side of the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center in Cambridge, Maryland.
Rosato explained to CNN that he discussed the idea for the painting with the community, as he wanted their input on what the design should be. Eventually, he became with the perfect view of what he felt Tubman represents for the community.
"I thought, why don't I just do that moment," Rosato started, "that moment when an enslaved person has to trust her to take their hand to freedom."
He also explained that Tubman's hand is inviting visitors into the museum, which is why the bricks are falling down.
"It wasn't so much about her busting through bricks as it was about her inviting you into the space that tells her story and the story of other enslaved people," he said.
Roseto also told News4 that he saw Lovie’s picture, adding that that was precisely the reaction he was looking for when he came up with the concept for the mural.
"I was blown away," Rosato said. "People were coming up to look at it. People were really reacting to it. I knew that it was striking a cord."
"This painting I wanted to be a young Harriet Tubman, young and full of energy and wanting to change the world. I want them to look at it and not be afraid. All I've ever wanted to do is paint, and to have people react to your painting is fabulous."
Harriet Tubman was born a slave a few miles from the mural. She escaped to the North seeking her freedom in 1849 and later made 13 trips back to Maryland risking her life to rescue her family and friends.
She became an operator at the Underground Railroad network of activists and abolitionists, rescuing around 70 people before the civil war. She worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy.
In 1863, she became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, liberating more than 700 slaves.
After the Civil War, she moved to New York, where she opened her home as a sanctuary for the elderly and ill and those with disabilities.
Tubman was a suffragist who fought for women’s rights until her death in 1913.