Harriet Tubman monument unveiled in Newark; audio narration by Queen Latifah
The city of Newark unveiled a monument on Thursday dedicated to abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
The monument, known as “Shadow of a Face,” sits along Broad Street in a park renamed for Tubman. It features an image of her face on the side and is topped by a steel outline of Tubman’s frame. Inside is an area for people to walk through that explains Tubman’s life work to free slaves living in the South through the Underground Railroad.
There is also an audio narration about Tubman’s life and New Jersey’s part in the Underground Railroad. That narration is provided by Newark’s own Queen Latifah.
"It has truly been about history, legacy, inspiration to our future," Latifah says. "Young people who see it, those of us who have been through it going through it and need just a little bit of inspiration."
The work was created by artist Nina Cooke John, who is from New Jersey. She won the right to create the structure.
“’Shadow of a Face’ is dedicated to the women of Newark,” Cooke John says. “You sit by bedsides in hospitals keep our children on track and clean up the detritus of our lives so we can step out unobstructed."
There was a march to the site for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The monument is in what is now called Harriet Tubman Square. In 2020, the city of Newark renamed the site which had been known as Washington Park. A statue of Christopher Columbus was also removed.
Mayor Ras Baraka says that the monument to Tubman is more representative of those who live in Newark and those who are descendants of slaves.
"It is our day. This monument is about us. That is our story. Moses is a Black woman wrapped in clothes with a bible and shotgun,” Barka says.
The mayor adds that this is not meant to erase history, rather it's an effort to be truthful and complete it.