Photo of Child Reaching to High-Five Mural of Harriet Tubman Sparks Viral Reaction

A photo of a 3-year-old girl high-fiving a mural painting of Harriet Tubman in Dorchester County, Maryland, is sparking personal reflections and inspiring users on social media.

The image of Lovie Hope Duncan reaching out to touch Tubman's hand in the mural has already been liked over 11,000 times and shared about 2,000 times on Twitter, where journalist Yashar Ali shared it May 18. The original photo was posted on Instagram by the account Maiden Maryland.

Painted on the wall of the Harriet Tubman Museum & Education Center in the city of Cambridge off the Chesapeake Bay, the mural by artist Michael Rosato was just finished on Monday this week.

It depicts the legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery, escaped to the North and led 13 trips along the Underground Railroad network of activists and abolitionists to rescue over 70 enslaved men, women and children before the Civil War.

According to the 3-year-old's grandmother Tracy Kilgore Lynndee, Duncan was captivated by the painting after going on a walk with her grandmother.

"Lovie is only 3. She loves to walk around town with us on pretty days to look and explore," Kilgore Lynndee said. "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. The response has been tremendous." 

Social media users on Twitter and Instagram have been leaving comments describing their emotional reactions to seeing the image, with some saying the photo gave them chills or made them cry.

The mural's artist, Rosato, told News4 that he is overjoyed with the reaction the mural, and the photo, are getting.

"That's exactly what I wanted to happen when I conceptualized the design. 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."

Rosato said he hoped the mural would evoke a message of comfort and invitation: communicating both the historical image of Tubman as a liberator and guide to freedom from slavery, and an image of Tubman inviting guests and passersby to enter the education center and museum housed inside the building the mural is painted on.

"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," Rosato said. "All I've ever wanted to do is paint and to have people react to your painting is fabulous."

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