Mayor Kenney / Philly must have an Open Call Process for Nana Harriet Tubman's Statue!

Mayor Kenney / Philly must have an Open Call Process for Nana Harriet Tubman's Statue!

July 15, 2022
Signatures: 767Next Goal: 1,000
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Why this petition matters

To all those in support of a transparent and fair open call process for the awarding of public arts commission contracts

The Celebrating the Legacy of Nana Harriet Tubman Committee is in love with the legacy and life of Nana Harriet Tubman and her resilience to seek freedom for self and others. For those looking to get grounded in our organizing, we invite you to read this article from supporter and community journalist Faye Anderson at All That Philly Jazz

The initial reaction to the news of a permanent statue in Nana Harriet’s honor was met with excitement and pleasure; until the remainder of the announcement was made. The good will was extinguished, becoming replaced by unwelcome surprise, confusion and anger. The process for the designation of a statue including materials, location, funding, and choice of artist has lacked transparency from the inception. We have reviewed the processes of such choice in its entirety for other works of public art, including recent initiatives in neighboring cities like Newark.

None of the steps of the process, as near as we can discern, have, in this case, been adhered to. These included lifting up local/regional artists to submit, alongside strongly encouraging artists of color and female artists. Having a shallow afterthought of a seven (7) question input survey and a restrictive time-allotted Zoom is not a substantive approach to community engagement before awarding such a high-dollar ($500,000.00) commitment of public tax dollars, honoring someone whose legacy means so much to our Black and global communities.

The Celebrating the Legacy of Nana Harriet Tubman Committee objects to the disregard of protocol and the standards of Best Practices in the unfair priority and selection of Wesley Wofford's Harriet Tubman sculpture by using whatever means at our disposal, and will oppose any attempts at an installation of such.

  • We call on Public Art Director Marguerite Anglin, Chief Cultural Officer Kelly Lee, and Mayor Jim Kenney to cease and desist and establish a moratorium on the non-competitive, unjust awarding of Nana Harriet Tubman's permanent statue to Wesley Wofford (or any associated non-profit) with Philadelphia's tax dollars.
  • We demand an open, transparent, participatory process that welcomes broad community input in the selection and strongly encourages local artists, artists of color, and women artists to submit proposals that honor the rich, justice-loving, inclusive legacy of Nana Harriet Tubman.

We invite local, national, and international support to stand with us to ensure that Nana Harriet's legacy in its commitment to justice and freedom be honored in everything that bears her name and image.

I sign this petition in support of the demands of the Celebrating the Legacy of Nana Harriet Tubman Committee.


Standing Up for Harriet Tubman,

City’s plan for $500K Harriet Tubman monument comes under fire for not being open to Black artists, Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia Faces Criticism for Commissioning a Harriet Tubman Statue From a White Artist, Hyperallergic

Philadelphia Courts Controversy with Commission of Harriet Tubman Statue, ArtForum

Philadelphia Is Installing Its First Monument to Abolitionist Hero Harriet Tubman—But Black Artists Say They Weren’t Given the Opportunity to Contribute, ArtNet News

Interview with Michael Coard, WURD Radio. 

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Signatures: 767Next Goal: 1,000
Support now