TRENTON – Assemblyman Antwan McClellan’s bipartisan bill creating a Black Heritage Trail in New Jersey was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy Wednesday.
McClellan, Legislative District 1’s first African American legislator in the General Assembly, was joined by the governor and the bill’s other sponsors at a signing ceremony at the City of Newark’s Public Library.
“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,” McClellan (R-Cape May) said. “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 not just during one month out of the year or select holidays, but always. It ensures that New Jersey’s Black history and culture will be properly documented and appreciated for future generations.”
The bill (A2677) directs the New Jersey Historical Commission to identify Black heritage sites throughout the state, including landmarks, heritage sites, museums and modern-day attractions. One million dollars will be appropriated to the Department of State to establish the trail’s historical markers.
The bill is co-sponsored by Assemblymen Jay Webber and Don Guardian.
“I’ve been honored to join Assemblyman McClellan in celebrating New Jersey’s Black history, which is woven throughout the history of our great and incredibly diverse state,” Webber (R-Morris) said. “Our Black history deserves special observation and recognition, and the idea of creating a Black Heritage Trail furthers that important effort.”
“I’m proud to have co-sponsored Assemblyman McClellan’s bill to recognize the often-overlooked contribution of African Americans to the story of New Jersey,” Guardian (R-Atlantic) said. “From the theatres and jazz clubs along Kentucky Avenue in Atlantic City to the historically black settlement of runaway slaves in Newtonville where the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center is now located, Atlantic County has been the home of leading Black musicians, entrepreneurs, physicians, and civil rights champions. Each week we uncover new treasures here in our state that paint a more complete portrait of the African American experience. I believe New Jersey’s Black Heritage Trail will captivate the public’s attention and provide everyone with important perspectives and representation that for too long were lost to history.”
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