Yesterday, March 9, 2023, a monument bearing the likeness of Harriet Tubman was unveiled in Newark, New Jersey. Standing in Harriet Tubman Square in downtown Newark, the statue pays tribute to the city’s pivotal role in the Underground Railroad and the Black liberation movements that rose in the area. The unveiling of the monument took place on "Harriet Tubman Day."
The “Shadow of a Face” statue was erected following the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue in 2020.
Named “Shadow of a Face,” the monument was designed by Nina Cooke John, a native of New Jersey. Michele Jones Galvin, Tubman’s great-great-great-grandniece and co-author of the book, Beyond the Underground, Aunt Harriet, Moses of Her People, was in attendance to cut the ribbon
Several distinguished NJ dignitaries were also present for the ceremony including Newark's Mayor Ras J. Baraka; First Lady Tammy Murphy, wife of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy; and New Jersey's State Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz.
“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. 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,” said Mayor Baraka. “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. Harriet Tubman Square and its interactive centerpiece sculpture, Shadow of a Face, represent our past, present, and future.”
“Harriet Tubman was a trailblazer, both literally and figuratively, whose legacy is a testament to the strength and resilience of the African American community in our country. Her unwavering commitment to freedom, justice, and equality has inspired countless others to stand up and fight for their rights,” added First Lady Murphy. “Today, we honor her memory and recognize her lasting influence, as we strive to build a more just and equitable New Jersey for all.”
“There are so many people who have impacted the course of our nation and for far too long our parks and historic sites haven’t included the full breadth of the American story. I applaud Mayor Ras J. Baraka’s leadership in bringing this to fruition and am proud Newark is part of a greater shift towards recognizing more women and people of color,” said Senate Majority Leader Ruiz. “Nina Cooke John has done an incredible job with this beautiful tribute honoring Harriet Tubman’s legacy.”