This Saturday residents of Burlington County, NJ will celebrate the history of Timbuctoo, a community founded in 1826 by free and formerly enslaved African Americans.
This year’s fifth annual Timbuctoo Day commemorates the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia Colony 400 years ago. However, organizers also want to honor the resilience and achievements of African Americans. Guy Weston leader of the Timbuctoo Advisory Committee said, “We don’t want to detract from the major emphasis on the exploitation of our people, and the fact that so many Americans are oblivious to how 246 years of slavery bolstered the U.S. economy and its aftereffects.” Weston also wants to program to make people aware of African American contributions to history that are not defined by what they couldn’t do.
At the event Saturday, organizers will honor Mount Moriah AME Church in Mount Holly, which was founded by Timbuctoo residents. The program will also include a keynote speech by Dr. Sam Lemon, an African-American Quaker whose ancestors escaped slavery in Virginia, a display of art created by Rancocas Valley High School students, and performances by musicians and dancers.
Free African Americans founded the community of Timbuctoo in 1826, with the assistance of Quakers. In 2011, the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office declared that the community was eligible for the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places based on its association free Black communities in New Jersey.
Timbuctoo Day will take place next to the Timbuctoo cemetery on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.