Philadelphia picks design for new Harriet Tubman statue
The city selected a winning design Monday for the new Harriet Tubman statue at Philadelphia's City Hall.
Why it matters: The statue will be the first of a historic Black woman figure in the city's vast public art collection.
Driving the news: Alvin Pettit's design — A Higher Power: The Call of a Freedom Fighter — will be placed at the northeast apron of City Hall.
- The African American Historic Statue Advisory Committee considered five semifinalist designs, though one artist later dropped out.
- The statue was commissioned for $500,000.
Flashback: Public calls for a permanent Tubman installation grew last year after a traveling statue of the famed abolitionist was placed outside City Hall in early 2022.
- Controversy erupted after the city commissioned a permanent Tubman statue from a white artist without offering other artists, including artists of color, to be considered.
- The city reversed course and held an open call for designs last year.
By the numbers: Nearly 3,000 responses were submitted to the city's online survey on the design selection.
Details: The statue will be 13.5 feet tall and depict Tubman in a prayer-like position with clenched fists in an oversized jacket and with a rifle on her back.
- At her feet will be broken shackles and a Confederate flag.
What they're saying: The design flips the typical historic narrative on Tubman — who is commonly depicted on the run — by showing her as a conqueror, Pettit said during a news conference Monday.
- "This woman was also a soldier, a scout, a Union spy, a military strategist and a war hero," he said.
- Mayor Jim Kenney added that Pettit's design "depicts Harriet Tubman's likeness, evokes her power and reminds us of her leadership — because Harriet Tubman was badass."
What's next: Installation of the statue begins between the summer of 2024 and early 2025, per the city's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.
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