A new, 25-foot-tall monument honoring Harriet Tubman was unveiled late last week, CNN said yesterday (March 12). The grand sculpture has replaced a statue of Christopher Columbus after protests were held in 2020 demanding it be removed.
On Thursday (March 9), Newark, New Jersey Mayor Ras J. Baraka presented the artwork, titled, “Shadow of a Face.” It is found at the center of the recently renamed Harriet Tubman Square. “In a time when so many cities are choosing to topple statues that limit the scope of their people’s story, we have chosen to erect a monument that spurs us into our future story of exemplary strength and solidity,” the mayor shared. Baraka added, “We have created a focal point in the heart of our city that expresses our participation in an ongoing living history of a people who have grappled through many conflicts to steadily lead our nation in its progress toward racial equality.”
A new monument to abolitionist Harriet Tubman was debuted by Newark city officials, rapper Queen Latifah, artist Nina Cooke John and others. The new monument stands in Harriet Tubman Square. pic.twitter.com/uTR2Jn5fb5
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 10, 2023
Citizens and stars alike celebrated the memorable day. “We hope the monument brings Harriet Tubman’s resistance and integrity to people everywhere who really need to hear it. We want people to know, to feel, to understand what was at stake and how incredibly brave Harriet Tubman was,” actress Queen Latifah said of the abolitionist. Born into slavery in Maryland in March 1820s, once Tubman escaped, she devoted her life to helping others find freedom. From 1850 to 1860, she embarked on dangerous quests to help other enslaved people by using the Underground Railroad — which had stops in Newark.
“This commission has meant a lot to me as an artist, as an architect, as a woman and as a mother of Black girls,” said Nina Cooke John, the designer of the sculpture. Tubman’s three-times great-grandniece also discussed the importance of the trailblazer’s sacrifice. “Let’s forever remember Harriet Tubman, for her compassion, courage, bravery, service to others, her patriotism, and her commitment to faith, family, fortitude and freedom,” she declared. March 10 marked 110 years since her passing.
See more tributes below.
Harriet Tubman died a hundred and ten years ago today: pic.twitter.com/QauRdvTDcY
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) March 10, 2023
Today, on the 110th anniversary of her passing, is Harriet Tubman Day. Her recognition of the horror of slavery allows us to understand why she kept going back to lead people out. May we celebrate her today and every day. pic.twitter.com/y9AugDEdAl
— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) March 10, 2023
Me and Queen Latifah in Newark’s Harriet Tubman Square! I am so proud and honored to have written the audio component of the new Harriet Tubman monument, "Shadow of a Face, which Queen Latifah narrated. The monument was designed by architect & artist Nina Cooke John. pic.twitter.com/3wdG62dSpL
— Pia Wilson (@pwilson720) March 9, 2023