Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law on September 7 that grants the New Jersey Historical Commission $1 million to be used toward the creation of a Black Heritage Trail.
With the development of the new trail, New Jersey hopes to better honor the history and resiliency of Black New Jerseyans, past and present. The route will feature commemorative plaques at sites of historical significance, including historical landmarks and museums.
The trail “will highlight Black abolitionists, veterans, artists, entertainers, and other leaders who have made their indelible marks on New Jersey’s history,” according to the governor’s office.
Some of the sites currently being considered for the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail include:
- A museum in Cape May focused on abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who rescued enslaved people through the Underground Railroad
- Perth Amboy, the city where the first free Black man, Thomas Mundy Peterson, voted in 1870
- Hinchliffe Stadium, one of the last still-standing Negro League venues
- Red Bank, the city where musician Count Basie grew up
New Jersey Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson noted that Black history has gone unrecognized in New Jersey “despite the rich influence the African-American community has had on New Jersey.”
Her hope is that the Black Heritage Trail will help to shine a spotlight on important historical landmarks throughout the state and on the “people who helped shape our nation,” Reynolds-Jackson said in a statement.
Exactly where and when the markers will be placed has yet to be announced. However, the state launched a virtual Black Heritage Trail in 2021, which provides people with curated three-day itineraries. The itineraries are organized by region and also include information about Black-owned stores and restaurants to visit en route.