NJ Bill Would Establish Black Heritage Trail

A bill that would establish the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail has passed the state’s General Assembly and is moving to a vote in the State Senate.

If passed, the bill would require the Division of Travel and Tourism to identify a series of Black heritage sites to make up the trail. According to a press release, the trail would promote the sites through historical markers as well as a trail-like path that connects stories of Black history throughout the state. A website connected to the trail would link heritage sites to nearby relevant arts, cultural, historical, entertainment, or other tourism destinations. The website would also provide vacation itineraries based on the Black Heritage Trail. The bill also calls for the creation of the New Jersey Black Cultural and Heritage Commission within the Department of State.

Assemblyman Antwan McClellan introduced the bill in September 2020. “Black history is normally celebrated either in January, during Martin Luther King Day, or in February for 28 days, during Black History Month. And I think there needs to be more of a celebration, more of an awareness of Black history,” McClellan told WHYY.

A Senate vote on the bill has not yet been scheduled. However, the Senate State Government Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee has unanimously endorsed the Senate bill.