On Thursday, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Ras J. Baraka, First Lady Tammy Murphy and other community leaders unveiled a 25-foot monument honoring abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The monument is located in a square that bears her name at Audible Innovation Cathedral. Called “Shadow of a Face,” the monument was designed by Nina Cooke John and features an audio installation with stories of Tubman’s life narrated by singer, actor and Newark native Queen Latifah.
The memorial replaced a controversial Christopher Columbus statue that was removed in June 2020, and marks the completion of a two-year project inspired by the iconic image of Tubman. Through this monument, visitors are encouraged to engage with history and connect with its legacy.
The City of Newark shared photos of the unveiling on Facebook.
“The monument stands in downtown Newark at the intersection of Washington and Broad Streets,” the city wrote in the post. “Come visit, take photos, and revel in the rich history of Harriet Tubman and Newark’s role in the Underground Railroad.”
The monument features a steel outline of Tubman’s frame inside a circular wall that visitors can enter to read text and listen to audio stories about Tubman’s life and the city’s history of Black liberation. Tubman’s face is engraved outside the stone circle, which also includes ceramic mosaic tiles created by Newark residents.
Michele Jones Galvin, Tubman’s great-great-great-grandniece, said she was delighted with the memorial.
“In the spirit of Harriet Tubman, the monument…will memorialize her heroism, will inspire future generations to take action when they see injustice and will instill the value of service to the most vulnerable in our society,” Galvin told NJ.com.
Mayor Baraka added that this monument was part of their response to George Floyd’s murder.
“People all around the country pulling down statues that represented a history that was oppressive, we wanted to take it a step further,” Baraka told NJ.com. “We wanted to build something. And as a result of that, this is what we got.”
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