Newark replacing Christopher Columbus statue with Harriet Tubman

Newark replacing Christopher Columbus statue with Harriet Tubman
© Courtesy of Smithsonian

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced last week that a statue of Christopher Columbus that was taken down last year in New Jersey's largest city will be replaced by a statue of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

“Nearly one year after our nation’s racial reckoning and just in time for this year’s celebration of Juneteenth, we are proud to announce the design selected for our new Harriet Tubman monument,” Baraka announced in a statement last Thursday.

The statue will be created by New York-based designer Nina Cooke John, with her design titled "Shadow of a Face" chosen from five proposals.

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“It is only fitting that we memorialize Tubman’s heroic efforts leading enslaved Africans to freedom via the Underground Railroad at this time of year when we celebrate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States," Baraka added. "Ms. John’s work of public art will be a symbol of hope and optimism for generations to come, not only for our Newark community, but also for the entire country.”

“My design creates a welcoming space for people to connect with Tubman as well as interact and reflect on their own liberation from whatever weight they might be carrying. This is a monument for the community and by the community," John said in the announcement.

The new monument will feature a large profile of Tubman and guide visitors through a "multisensory experience" that teaches them about important dates in Tubman's life.

At least 33 statues of Christopher Columbus have been taken down since demonstrations against racial injustice began in the spring of last year. Cities like Chicago and San Francisco have all decided to remove statues of Columbus.

Though the Italian explorer has been credited with being the first European to discover the Americas, in recent years his history of genocide and slavery has caused many to call for him to no longer be heralded as a positive figure in American history.