Speaker Honors Girl in Viral Photo of Harriet Tubman Mural

    Auriah Hope “Lovie” Duncan is held by her grandmothers as House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) gestures to an iconic photo of the young girl touching the outstretched hand of Harriet Tubman in a Cambridge mural. Jones installed the photo, which captivated many, in the speaker's office soon after her election. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

    When 3-year-old Lovie Duncan placed her hand on the outstretched palm of Harriet Tubman in a Cambridge mural last spring, the image went viral.

    It captivated House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) as well.

    Soon after Jones’ historic election as the state’s first woman and first African American to serve in the role, she hung the picture of Lovie and Harriet on her office wall.

    The framed photo was brought to the House floor on Wednesday as Jones introduced the chamber to the young girl in the image: Auriah Hope “Lovie” Duncan, “one of our youngest hometown celebrities.”

    Jones lauded Lovie and her family ― grandmothers Tracy and Tammy Lynndee shared the photo on Facebook ― for not only capturing a sweet moment, but also bringing positive attention to the mural, which is on the side of the Harriet Tubman Museum & Educational Center.

    Jones presented Lovie with House Resolution #41, in recognition of her “reaching your hand to touch the hand of the past as you strive to make a bright future.”

    Lawmakers gave a standing ovation and gushed as they snapped photos of Lovie alongside Jones alongside the now-famous image.

    It was one of two emotional ovations during the 20-minute floor session Wednesday. The chamber also honored Matthew A. Stoller, who is leaving his post as house administrator.

    House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) presents a resolution honoring Matthew Stoller, the outgoing house administrator. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

    Lawmakers banged their desks and cheered as Stoller was called to the front of the chamber by Jones.

    “This is bittersweet. When you start something, you never think of when it’s going to end,” an emotional Stoller told the chamber. “This has been an amazing journey.”

    He thanked the members for the relationships he’d built with each of them, staff members in the speaker’s office, Jones for always sharing kind words and the late House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who befriended Stoller a decade ago when he was working at Harry Browne’s and later hired him to the speaker’s office.

    But Stoller also kept it light.

    His parting message to the chamber:

    “If someone’s in your parking spot next week, don’t call me.”

    [email protected]

    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.