Newark, New Jersey, unveiled a new monument honoring abolitionist Harriet Tubman on Friday, which replaced a long-standing Christopher Columbus memorial.
Newark's newly renamed Harriet Tubman Square was unveiled Thursday with the monument "Shadow of a Face." In a press release, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said the monument pays homage to Tubman's and the city's involvement in the Underground Railroad, as well as the Black Liberation Movement's history.
Robert Hayden's 1962 poem Runagate Runagate inspired the monument's title, which pays tribute to Tubman.
"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," Baraka said in a statement.
"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," he added.
An inscribed circular wall and mosaic tiles adorn the 25-foot monument commemorating Tubman and Newark's Black liberation movement. According to the news release, Tubman's portrait is featured at the base of the portrait wall, while ceramic tiles commissioned by Newark residents cover the mosaic.
"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," Cooke John said in a news release.
In 1822, Tubman was born Araminta Ross into slavery in Maryland. Around 1844, she married a free Black man named John Tubman and changed her name to Harriet. In 1849, Tubman escaped slavery and would go on to deliver 300 others to freedom.
It is fitting that a monument dedicated to Harriet Tubman, a Black woman who became a hero in the Black community and in American history, would replace the statue of the colonizer Christopher Columbus, who never even set foot on the North American continent. We love to see it.