Harriet Tubman memorial to replace Columbus statue

Written by
Edwin Rios

The new Tubman monument in Newark, Shadow of a Face, designed by the architect Nina Cooke John, is installed at a park that had been known as Washington Park since the 1790s.

Last year, the park was renamed Harriet Tubman Square, a move that local preservationists questioned given Tubman’s loose connection to Newark compared with George Washington’s during the revolutionary war. Tubman reportedly passed runaway enslaved people through the Presbyterian church in Newark as part of the Underground Railroad, the huge network of safe houses and contacts by which people risked their lives to escape or help others flee slave-holding parts of the US.

The monument features a circular wall with a steel outline of Tubman within and ceramic tiles from Newark residents. It also includes a “listening wall” where visitors can hear accounts, narrated by the Newark-born rapper and actor Queen Latifah and written by author Pia Wilson, about Tubman’s life and the city’s connection to emancipation. Cooke John told NJ.com that the installation “aims to connect the stories of the past to the stories of today”.

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