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NEWARK, N.J. – A monument honoring Black abolitionist Harriet Tubman was unveiled on Thursday in New Jersey, replacing a controversial statue of Christopher Columbus that was removed in June 2020.

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The 25-foot monument of Tubman in Newark, called “Shadow of a Face,” includes an audio installation of the abolitionist’s life, CBS News reported. The audio is narrated by singer-actress Queen Latifah, who was born in Newark.

The monument includes a circular “learning wall” where visitors can read about Newark’s history and the life of Tubman, The New York Times reported. Tubman was an enslaved person who escaped in 1849 and then led hundreds to freedom via the Underground Railroad. During the Civil War, she was a Union spy, according to the newspaper.

The Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses that led across the Mason-Dixon line to the North, included a church in Newark that had hidden tunnels, CBS News reported.

Also in attendance on Thursday at Harriet Tubman Square — formerly known as Washington Park — was Michele Jones Galvin, Tubman’s great-great-great grandniece, according to

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“In the spirit of Harriet Tubman, the monument … will memorialize her heroism, will inspire future generations to take action when they see injustice and will instill the value of service to the most vulnerable in our society,” Galvin said during the ceremony.

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, and New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy also attended, reported.

“We honor Harriet as we also celebrate that democracy and the understanding that the greatness of this county lives in Harriet’s footsteps,” Baraka said. “So today, this monument is about us.”

Baraka told ABC News that during racial protests and the demands nationwide to remove certain historical figures who were considered racist, his city “got ahead of it,” and removed Columbus’ statue.

“We also wanted to make sure that we put something up because it wasn’t just about removing things, it was also about representing the wholeness and fullness of history,” Baraka told the news organization. “And so, we wanted to do that in Newark, and be one of the first folks to put something up in place of statues that were taken down.”

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Queen Latifah said during a media event that she “learned so much” during the project to dedicate the statue of Tubman, ABC News reported.

“We hope this monument brings Harriet Tubman’s resistance and integrity to people everywhere who really need to hear it,” Latifah said. “We want people to know, to feel, to understand what was at stake and how incredibly brave Harriet Tubman was.”

The monument was designed by Nina Cooke John and is a steel outline of Tubman’s frame that sits inside a circular wall, reported. The monument has Tubman’s face engraved outside of a stone circle and includes ceramic tiles created by Newark residents, the news organization reported.

“The monument aims to connect the stories of the past to the stories of today,” Cooke John said.