In September 2022, Governor Phil Murphy signed bipartisan bill A2677, which required the New Jersey Historical Commission to establish a Black Heritage Trail to promote and honor Black history, heritage, and culture in New Jersey. In a statement published on the New Jersey state government website, Phil Murphy said, “Celebrating and commemorating Black history is not something that we should relegate to only the month of February or to Juneteenth. Black history is New Jersey history. It must be honored every day of the year.”
The New Jersey Black Heritage Trail highlights significant historical contributions of Black Americans that helped shape New Jersey. Visitors can utilize an interactive map and downloadable itineraries through the New Jersey Black Heritage website to explore African American historic sites spanning across northern, central, and southern New Jersey and destinations along the Delaware River.
In central New Jersey, visitors can explore Somerville, where iconic actor and singer Paul Robeson grew up. They can head down south and trace the journey to freedom at the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cape May or explore the historic Bethel Church of Morristown in northern New Jersey.
The Black community in New Jersey has “long shaped our history and culture, with roots that trace back to the mid-1600s, when colonial settlers brought the first captive Africans to the Mid-Atlantic region, followed by centuries of persistence for freedom, justice, and equality.” With the establishment of the Black Heritage Trail, visitors will learn about the lives of influential Black New Jerseyans and noteworthy museums and historic sites that honor New Jersey’s unique Black heritage.
For more information, visit the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail website.