TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, Legislative District 1’s first African American legislator in the General Assembly, and Assemblywomen Shavonda Sumter and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson are one step closer to establishing a New Jersey Black Heritage Trail. Their bill was unanimously passed by the full Assembly and a Senate committee on Thursday.
“I am honored to help shine a light on New Jersey’s rich African history and encourage tourism to hidden Black heritage spots throughout the state,” said McClellan (R-Cape May). “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”
“Black history plays an integral role in the story of our country and our State,” said Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic). “By creating the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail to highlight and celebrate so many important historic sites, we can raise awareness and educate our fellow New Jerseyans about the historical contributions of Black people in our State.”
“Despite the rich influence the African-American community has had on New Jersey, Black history has gone unrecognized for far too long,” said Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “With the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail, we can ensure important landmarks throughout the State receive the recognition they deserve while highlighting the moments and people who helped shape our nation.”
The bill (A2677) creates a New Jersey Black Cultural and Heritage Commission and directs the Division of Travel and Tourism to work with the commission to identify a series of sites in the state that would connect the public to Black life and resiliency stories.