The statue—which will stand in Downtown Newark’s Washington Park—will serve as an ode to Tubman’s bravery, resiliency and the sacrifices she made on the journey towards freedom. The structure will replace a statue of Christopher Columbus that was removed following the uprising in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. In October 2020, the City of Newark unveiled plans to not only replace the statue but to change Washington Park’s name to Tubman Square.
Artist Nina Cooke John, who is the founder of the multidisciplinary design studio Studio Cooke John, will design the new monument dubbed “Shadow of a Face.” The multisensory structure will serve as a piece that is reflective of Tubman’s journey and also highlights New Jersey’s connection to the Underground Railroad. “Featuring a larger than life profile of Harriet Tubman, the work will let visitors connect with her at eye level on a foundational wall where her face will be reflected in a mosaic made of large ceramic pieces,” read a description about the monument. “The texture of the mosaic will be repeated at different scale on the ground and inner walls. Text throughout the area will highlight important dates in the history of the Underground Railroad and the names of safe houses throughout New Jersey.” Newark artist Adebunmi Gbadebo will support the project. The changes are slated to officially be made in 2022.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says having a monument dedicated to Tubman is more fitting due to her historical connection to New Jersey. “Harriet Tubman actually stepped foot here in this property, Christopher Columbus did not,” he said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “So, it seems more appropriate to have a statue of Harriet Tubman and talk about the abolitionists’ work that went on that most people in New Jersey don’t even know, fighting against a system that was trying to allow slavery in this state.”
Tubman’s contributions are being honored in several ways throughout the state. The Harriet Tubman Museum in Cape May, New Jersey opened its doors on Juneteenth.