HARRIET TUBMAN

Location: Manhattan, New York
Artist: Alison Saar

Did you know that currently only 5 of New York City's 150 statues are of historic women? Of those 5 only 1 is a woman of colour! Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), escaped slavery to become a leading abolitionist and amongst many brave acts, led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the Underground Railroad. The statue, also known as ‘Swing Low,’ is a 4 meter bronze and Chinese granite sculpture, and was created by sculptor Alison Saar.

Her artwork focuses on the African diaspora and black female identity and is influenced by African, Caribbean, and Latin American folk art and spirituality. It was unveiled in November 13, 2008 and depicts Tubman striding forward despite roots pulling on the back of her skirt; these represent the roots of slavery. Her skirt is decorated with images representing the former slaves who she assisted to escape. The statue base features illustrations representing moments from her life, alternated with traditional quilting symbols. In 2004, the statue received a Public Design Commission Award for Excellence in Design.