Bringing History to Light at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

Harriet Tubman ‘Tells the Tales’ of Black Lighthouse Keepers

Chris Dixon stars as Harriet Tubman in “Keeping the Light: The Story of the Bravery, Heroism and Courage of African American Lighthouse Keepers and Lifesaving Service” at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. | Credit: Kristopher Johnson

February 1 is the 167th anniversary of the lighting of the Pt. Conception Lighthouse lens, and the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is commemorating the occasion with a unique theatrical presentation: Keeping the Light: The Story of the Bravery, Heroism and Courage of African American Lighthouse Keepers and Lifesaving Service as told by Harriet Tubman. This production also celebrates Black History Month and features producer/director/performer Chris Dixon as the indomitable Harriet Tubman.

Known for her heroism as a freedom fighter on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman spent years outsmarting the slave owners, sheriffs, and bounty hunters who sought to end her life’s calling of freeing slaves. Dixon, who has spent the last 10 years playing Harriet Tubman in one-woman performances across the country (including off Broadway!), has created an intense, yet sassy character who keeps the stories of Black valor alive through theater. This production at the Maritime Museum will be Dixon’s 700th performance in this important role.

There are two shows on Wednesday, February 1: The first is a child-friendly version of the piece at 3:30 p.m., in which details of the violence in Tubman’s story and the history of the Black race are softened or omitted. The second performance, at 7 p.m., is more appropriate for adults. Content-wise, the shows tell stories of Black lighthouse keepers and get audiences acquainted with the details of Tubman’s story, as well. Dixon generally offers a short Q&A segment after the presentation where she answers queries from audience members in character.

Tickets are available at, with free admission for children and youth under 18, accompanied by an adult.

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