Mar 15, 2022 - News

Philadelphians call on Congress to make new federal holiday honoring Harriet Tubman

Jeannine Cook of Harriett’s Bookshop. Photo courtesy of Jeannine Cook

Jeannine Cook of Harriett's Bookshop. Photo: Courtesy of Jeannine Cook

The owner of Harriett's Bookshop in Philadelphia is on a mission to make Harriet Tubman Day the nation's 12th federal holiday — and the first one commemorating a woman.

What's happening: Jeannine Cook, who owns the Fishtown book store named after Tubman, is spearheading a letter-writing campaign asking Congress to support a proposal honoring the abolitionist with a national holiday.

Flashback: Cook has collected more than 9,750 signatures and spoken to local members of Congress about the effort over the past year.

  • Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Democratic from Philadelphia who has communicated with Cook and others, put forward a proposal in the U.S. House last week to create a federal holiday in honor of Tubman.

What they're saying: "Our federal holidays must be a mirror of the American experience while at the same time reflecting our country's history and diversity," Boyle said in a statement.

Cook told Axios that Tubman is "one of those familiar people in history who didn't get their due when they were here."

  • She said the holiday would help the nation reckon with its history of slavery.
  • "We don't need another parade. We don't need another party. What we need is substantial change," she said.

What's next: Cook is calling for photos of letters sent to Congress on the matter.

  • She hopes to make a photo book next year.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more