RAHWAY, NJ — The “Harriet Tubman: The Beacon of Hope” traveling monument was unveiled in the city of Rahway on Friday, Feb. 3.
The 13-foot bronze statue, created by Academy and Emmy Award-winning sculptor Wesley Wofford of Wofford Sculpture Studio, will be on display through Thursday, Feb. 29, at City Hall Plaza, 1 City Hall Plaza, Rahway.
Tubman, originally known as Araminta Ross, was born into slavery and emerged as a beacon of hope and resilience during a pivotal era in American history. Renowned as a courageous abolitionist, she not only liberated herself, but dedicated her life to freeing countless others through the Underground Railroad.
Rahway is the third city The Beacon of Hope traveling monument has visited. Previously, it’s been in Cape May and Salisbury, Md.
Mayor Raymond A. Giacobbe Jr. cut the ribbon and said, “I’m truly honored to have this statue here in our great city.” Union County Commissioner Rebecca L. Williams and Commissioner Bette Jane Kowalski were also in attendance.
Prior to the unveiling, there was a celebration in the recreation center, hosted by the Rev. Marti Robinson, pastor, Ebenezer AME Church, Rahway.
“We are here to celebrate Black History Month, focusing on a great human being,” Robinson said.
Continuing, he said Harriet Tubman had a “liberation mindset.” He also shared some facts about Tubman, including that she was the first black woman to have a stamp in 1978 and that she suffered a severe head injury at a young age and had migraines and seizures. She had brain surgery without anesthesia, biting on a bullet during surgery.
He then introduced the mayor as “a visionary and family man.”
“Harriet Tubman continues to inspire us all,” Giacobbe said. “Together, we carry on her legacy for a brighter future. We have the opportunity to make a difference. We have to seize that opportunity. Harriet Tubman’s legacy is a testament to the power of determination, compassion and the pursuit of justice. The city of Rahway is truly honored to be The Beacon of Hope’s third stop along its ‘Freedom Tour’ throughout the country and we are excited to celebrate Tubman’s enduring spirit as we strive to embody the principles she championed.”
Ximena Duran, enrollment manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, spoke about her organization and said, “By mentoring our youth, we are shaping history.”
Rachael Faillace, Rahway’s administrator of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, spoke about the variety of activities and educational experiences the city will be having throughout the month of February, in celebration of Black History Month.
To learn about the other activities that are happening during Black History Month, visit https://www.cityofrahway.com/523/Black-History-Month.
Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta