Newark to erect statue honoring Harriet Tubman where Christopher Columbus statue once stood
Days after a George Floyd statue was erected outside of Newark City Hall, there is news of another monument coming to the Brick City.
It was last year around this time when Newark, like other cities across the country, took down its statue of Christopher Columbus. Only the pedestal remains at Washington Park. And now a statue depicting Harriet Tubman will replace the Columbus statue.
“This conversation became louder as we saw monuments toppled across the country,” says Newark Arts & Cultural Affairs director Fayemi Shakur.
The area where the Columbus statue once stood will now be named Harriet Tubman Square. The design was chosen and announced as part of Newark’s Juneteenth celebration.
“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,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement.
"He wanted to replace Columbus with a statue of someone representative of who we are in Newark now and someone who could inspire our young people, residents and visitors,” Shakur says.
The selected design was created by Essex County artist Nina Cooke John. It incorporates not just a new monument of Tubman, but the entire park and surrounding area. It is meant to create an inspiring space to honor the abolitionist and educate the city and beyond about Tubman, her life and her journey.
The city hopes to have the new monument and what they are calling a “multi-sensory experience” up and ready for the public by summer 2022.
Newark gave its Christopher Columbus statue to an organization that would ensure it was properly preserved.