A Statue of Harriet Tubman Replaces Statue of Christopher Columbus in Newark, NJ

A new statue of abolitionist Harriet Tubman has been erected in Newark, NJ. The monument, dubbed “Shadow of a Face,” also includes audio by Queen Latifah, a Newark native. 

According to The New York Times, the audio includes stories about the Underground Railroad, in which Tubman was a conductor, as well as free Black communities in New Jersey.  The monument, which replaced the statue of Christopher Columbus, also contains a learning wall, where curious minds can read about Tubman’s life, and her escape from slavery in 1849. 

Prof. James Amemasor was responsible for research on this project.  

“I think people know of her name — she’s one of the people who make the cut in school and other places like that, but really probably not in depth,” Mayor Ras Baraka Baraka said to The Times. “I think this monument allows us to see her as a human being and look at her in depth and see that she showed up in these places.” He said the monument would “make her experience real for all of us.”

“We have to figure out how to transform the city in such a way that we can be proud of it collectively,” he added. “We’re actually not,” he said. “We’re adding people who were left out. That’s a change that should happen. It’s important for us so we can move on and figure out how not to live this moment again.”

Many historians suggest that Newark’s Plane Street Colored Church, which no longer exists, was a stop on the Underground Railroad system. Baraka said Newark represents “the unyielding work of the Newark Black activist community for Black emancipation and as Underground Railroad activists.”

When Barack Obama was in office, he expressed interest to recognize Tubman by placing her on the $20 bill, but those efforts came to an end when Trump entered office. However, Senator Jeanne Shaheen recently introduced a bill that would require $20 bills printed after 2030 to include Tubman’s likeness.