Plans for Philadelphia’s Harriet Tubman Monument Under Fire

Philadelphia’s plans for a new monument dedicated to Harriet Tubman were decried by local artists and historians over the city’s decision to commission Wesley Wofford, a white artist, to design the sculpture without considering proposals by Black artists.

Wofford designed the statue Harriet Tubman: The Journey to Freedom, which was on display from January to March outside Philadelphia’s City Hall. The statue was set up as a traveling exhibition and has since been moved to White Plains, New York.

In June, the city held a public virtual meeting with the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy in order to discuss the project. Various artists and historians vocalized their disagreements with the city’s decision to commission Wofford.

According to Angelica Villa from ARTnews, Marguerite Anglin, a director of the city’s office overseeing arts and culture, led the meeting and claimed the aim of the monument is to “speak to the diversity of the audience.” Anglin went on to state that it would have been inappropriate to ask another artist to recreate a rendition of Wofford’s statue.

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