From pioneering abolitionist, Harriet Tubman’s Cape May connections to activist, musician and actor Paul Robeson’s childhood home in Princeton, the state of New Jersey is filled with pockets of Black history, and a new project will ensure the unsung stories of Black trailblazers that exist in the Garden State are amplified and celebrated. According to NBC, elected officials and cultural institutions are joining forces for the creation of the Black Heritage Trail.
Introduced in January 2021, the initiative was designed to celebrate the legacies of barrier-breaking African Americans who shaped New Jersey’s social, cultural, and political landscapes. The trail will include landmarks, museums, and heritage sites—that serve as the backdrops of historic moments in time—which will all be featured on a downloadable trip itinerary. Historical markers will be added to the sites along the trail to bring attention to their significance.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that will allocate $1 million for the development of the historical markers. The designated sites will be chosen by the New Jersey Black Cultural and Heritage Initiative Foundation and the New Jersey Historical Commission.
The bill was backed by Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Senator Troy Singleton, and Senator Michael Testa. News about the Black Heritage Trail comes a year after it was announced a monument honoring the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman was coming to Downtown Newark’s Washington Park. There is no word on when the project will be completed.
“If we omit this history, it is as if we are looking at ourselves with just one eye. We as a people and nation have too long been selective in how we understand and talk about history,” Derek Davis, who serves as a board member for the Camden County Historical Society and the NJ Black Heritage Foundation, said in a statement. “This reservoir of information and its public acknowledgment will teach us who we once were and can contextualize who we are, pointing us towards a better shared future.”
“Celebrating and commemorating Black history is not something that we should relegate to only the month of February or to Juneteenth. Black history is New Jersey history. It must be honored every day of the year,” added Murphy.
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