TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed a bipartisan bill creating a Black Heritage Trail in New Jersey. The bill, which directs the New Jersey Historical Commission to identify Black heritage sites throughout the state, now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Sponsors of the bill (A2677), Assemblyman Antwan McClellan, Legislative District 1’s first African American legislator in the General Assembly, and Assemblywomen Shavonda Sumter and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, say the bill will help New Jerseyans celebrate and comprehend the state’s important Black history.
“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 appropriates $1 million to the Department of State for the purposes of establishing the trail’s historical markers.