A monument honoring Harriet Tubman has replaced a controversial Christopher Columbus Statue in what is now known as the Harriet Tubman square in Newark, New Jersey. The monument was unveiled on March 10, which is celebrated nationwide as Harriet Tubman Day.
The phrase “Shadow of a Face” comes from a 1962 Robert Hayden poem, “RunagateRunagate.” The monument is meant to celebrate the city’s contributions to the Underground Railroad and the Black liberation movement.
Designed by the artist Nina Cooke John, the 25-foot monument, also features an audio performance led by Queen Latifa which narrates the contribution of the abolitionist heroine.
A ceremony was held to unveil the statue. Mayor of Newark Ras J. Baraka said at the occasion: “In a time when so many cities are choosing to topple statutes 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.”
“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.”
Born into slavery in Maryland, Harriet made dozens of trips to Maryland to help enslaved people find freedom through a secret network of routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.