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Harriet Tubman monument replaces  Christopher Columbus statue in New Jersey
Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Harriet Tubman monument replaces  Christopher Columbus statue in New Jersey

A monument honoring abolitionist trailblazer Harriet Tubman was unveiled in Newark, New Jersey, Thursday, replacing a long-standing statue of Christopher Columbus removed in 2020 amid the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd.

"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," Newark's Mayor Ras Baraka said in a press release.

"In a country where the overwhelming majority of monuments are testaments to white males, Newark has chosen to erect a monument to a Black woman who was barely five feet tall, but had the visage and power of a giant," Baraka also said.

The new monument, designed by New Jersey native and architect Nina Cooke John, is titled "Shadow of a Face." It honors intrepid abolitionist Harriet Tubman and the city's role in the Underground Railroad.

"Shadow of a Face celebrates both the legacy of Harriet Tubman and the lives of the people living in Newark today – connecting their story to Tubman’s story through a common bond of seekers of liberty in the past and in the present," said Cooke John.

"Her heroism is recognized, and space is claimed for her story in this historic park, while her humanity is made accessible so that we can all be empowered by her deeds both great and small."

Dignitaries, politicians, and celebrities on hand for Thursday's unveiling included Queen Latifah, New Jersey's first lady Tammy Murphy, state Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, Newark Museum of Art Director and CEO Linda C. Harrison, and Michele Jones Galvin, a descendant of Harriet Tubman.

Several photographs of "Shadow of a Face" and the unveiling ceremony are available here. Readers can also enjoy a time-lapse video of the monument's creation and interviews with significant figures involved in bringing it to fruition, provided by the city.

Harriet Tubman MonumentPhoto by DreamPlay, Photographer Cesar Melgar/flic.kr

Harriet Tubman MonumentPhoto by DreamPlay, Photographer Cesar Melgar/flic.kr

"Shadow of a Face" replaces a statue of Christopher Columbus that was removed by the city in June 2020. It was a gift from Newark's Italian community unveiled on Columbus Day in 1927, according to NewarkHistory.

"In keeping with the movement to remove symbols of oppression and white supremacy, we have decided to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus from Washington Park," Mayor Baraka said on the statue's removal in June 2020.

"The removal of this statue should not be perceived as an insult to the Italian-American community. It is a statement against the barbarism, enslavement, and oppression that this explorer represents," Baraka also said.

A second Christopher Columbus statue was removed from the city "by private citizens" about a week later.

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