Harriet Tubman Monument Replaces Columbus Statue

Nina Cooke John and the Harriet Tubman piece she carved. Source: CNN

By Mallory Daniels

In Washington Park in Newark, New Jersey, a long standing Christopher Columbus memorial was replaced by a monument for Harriet Tubman. The statue of Christopher Columbus was made in Rome in 1927 and was taken away in 2020, leaving the pedestal to be turned into the new memorial. Mayor of Newark, Ras J. Baraka, stated, “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.”

Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Ross, was an incredible historic woman. She was born into slavery along with her eight siblings in Maryland. During her childhood, she was abused by slaveholders. At around twelve years old, Tubman was hit in the head by a weight, causing her to have a lifetime of severe headaches, visions, and narcolepsy. She escaped Maryland to go to Philadelphia on September 17, 1849. Using the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman saved around seventy slaves.

In March of 2021, Newark held a contest for artists to submit designs for the monument. In June, Nina Cooke John was announced the winner of the contest. Her vision included a circular design called “Shadow of a Face.” On March 9, 2023, the monument was unveiled. It is twenty-five feet tall and includes mosaics inscribed with her stories. The park was also renamed from Washington Park to Tubman Square.