New Jersey bill would create black heritage trail and establish cultural markers

A bill introduced more than a year ago in the New Jersey General Assembly is on the verge of becoming a reality, as the State Senate favorably reported in a committee meeting over early this month.

The two-party-backed bill, which would establish cultural and historical markers linked to a New Jersey black heritage trail, aims to provide a collection of cultural and historical sites for tourists and academics seeking information about the history of New Jersey’s black community, according to a statement by the state government, betting, tourism and historic preservation committee on Nov. 15.

The purpose of the Black Heritage Trail is to encourage awareness of “the history, heritage and culture of black people in the state through education, public programs and historical markers,” according to the remarks. complete by November 15.

“We are a tourism state,” Bill’s sponsor, MP Antwan McClellan, told WHYY. “And I think this is the best opportunity for people to go and visit these places and learn more about the history of African Americans in New Jersey.” McClellan is one of four Republican lawmakers supporting the bill.
Some of the proposed sites that could be designated on the trail include the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cape May, which opened on June 17 to commemorate the holiday. Other places include Timbuktu in Burlington County, where land was first purchased by African Americans in 1826, and was originally compromised by people once enslaved and freed.

New Jersey currently has a schedule for black heritage tours, but if passed, this bill would tie these historic and cultural sites together into a large mapped area.

Some of the areas covered by Black Heritage Travel Routes include the Underground Railroad Streetcar Tour, the Civil Rights Garden in Atlantic City, the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, and the AME Church of Macedonia to Camden.

The bill was first introduced by McClellan in 2020. It was passed unanimously in the General Assembly in June, where it went to the New Jersey Senate. A vote in the Senate has not yet been scheduled, but the favorable report of November could give a clue on the continuation of this legislation.

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