Philadelphia’s New Harriet Tubman Statue

Philadelphia's Officials Decided on New Harriet Tubman Statue Which Will Portrait a Historical Black Woman.

Nov 2, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Philadelphia's city hall.
Philadelphia’s city hall. Via Wikipedia


Philadelphia’s officials decided on a new Harriet Tubman statue, which will take place in front of the City Hall. The placing of the statue has a historical meaning – it marks the first representation of a Black woman. Overall, it will be a part of the city’s public collection. The city was previously “under fire” for choosing a white man artist at first.


Philadelphia’s Bronze Statue to Renowned Revolutionary Tubman

Harriet Tubman
Tubman in 1887 (far left) with her family. Via Wikipedia


Alvin Pettit, a sculptor from Jersey City, defeated four other semifinalists. A Higher Power: The Call of a Freedom Fighter, his bronze monument, will attain a height of about 14 feet. It will show Tubman atop a heap of shattered chains. Also, it will depist a gun slung over her shoulder, her hands clasped in prayer.


“She is shown in majestic prayer. Perhaps she is calling upon her faith or contemplating a battle. I captured a moment in time that shows her as a conqueror“, Pettit explained as he displayed an illustration made of dough for the project. He shared this information at his conference, which took place on Monday.


Philadelphia's city hall.
Harriet Tubman. Via Wikipedia


Renowned revolutionary Tubman used the Underground Railroad to help liberate enslaved individuals of colour after escaping enslavement in the American South. During the American Civil War, she served in the Union Army as a nurse, scout, and informant.

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Wesley Wofford’s Role

Philadelphia's city hall.
Photocopy of southeast pavilion under construction,1881.PCA – The New Public Buildings, Penn Square, Broad and Market Streets, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA HABS PA,51-PHIL,327-45


Last year, when a travelling version of his 2017 Tubman memorial was on display at city hall, municipal officials made available the assignment to North Carolina-based artist Wesley Wofford. Artists and activists objected to the decision, arguing that a Black artist ought to have been given the chance in its place.


Following Wofford’s programme cancellation, the city’s department of arts, culture, and the creative economy put out a solicitation for applications in August 2022. Before permitting the audience to vote, city officials selected the candidates. The African American statuary advisory committee in Philadelphia, which includes Tubman’s family members, and city authorities made the final decision.


Harriet Tubman
Notice published in the Cambridge Democrat (1849), offering a reward for the return of Harriet Tubman and her two brothers


Pettit has previously created large-scale sculptures of notable Black figures. His earlier sculptures feature the well-known singer Marian Anderson and the educator and philanthropist Mary McLeod Bethune. The $500,000 project cost will be covered by a charge to the city’s operating budget. By 2025, it is expected to be finished.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.