The New Jersey Black Heritage Trail
Wednesday, September 7 – Governor Phil Murphy signed a law establishing a Black Heritage Trail and Commission in New Jersey.
“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,” – said Governor Murphy.
The bill requires the New Jersey Historical Commission to establish a Black Heritage Trail to promote awareness and appreciation of Black history, heritage, and culture in the State.
The trail will consist of historical markers placed at various sites along a path running through the state to commemorate African American contributions to the sciences, arts, education, journalism, and more.
“The Black Heritage Trail will highlight Black heritage sites through historical markers and a trail-like path that connect the stories of Black life and resiliency in the State.” – Office of the Governor of New Jersey
Potential trail marker locations include the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cape May County, Hinchcliffe Stadium in Paterson, the Underground Railroad Museum in Burlington County, and many more.
The New Jersey Black Heritage Trail invites visitors and residents to “discover the remarkable achievements and legacies of New Jersey’s African American scholars, famous figures, and everyday citizens who shaped the State’s history for nearly four centuries.” - Office of the Governor of NJ
All the landmarks, heritage sites, museums, and modern-day attractions highlighted by the NJ Black Heritage Trail will also be featured on downloadable three-day trip itineraries and map views.
This new bill, introduced by Cape May County Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, appropriates $1 million for the project; and establishes the Black Heritage Trail Commission within the state Division of Travel and Tourism, tasking the commission with designating sites, designing markers, and promoting the trail.
The Commission will give special consideration to sites in close proximity, thematically linked by surrounding arts and tourism destinations, or recommended by the New Jersey Black Cultural and Heritage Initiative Foundation.
The primary sponsors of the bill are Assemblyman McClellan, Assemblywoman Reynolds Jackson, Assemblywoman Sumter, Senator Singleton, and Senator Testa.
“From Ocean City’s former segregated Westside to Cape May’s new Harriet Tubman Museum, there are so many sites and stories that testify to our state’s important Black history. This trail will highlight Black abolitionists, veterans, artists, entertainers, and other leaders who have made their indelible marks on New Jersey’s history and deserve to be recognized and celebrated. It ensures that New Jersey’s Black history and culture will be properly documented and appreciated for future generations,” said Assemblyman Antwan McClellan.
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