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Department of State

The Hon. Tahesha Way, Lt. Governor and Secretary of State

New Jersey Historical Commission Commemorates Juneteenth 2022

Events throughout New Jersey Reveal Hidden Stories of Slavery in New Jersey and the North

Trenton, NJ – Join the African American History Program of the New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) this month for a series of events commemorating Juneteenth. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, marks the injustice of June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned that they were freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier.

“New Jersey’s observation of Juneteenth this year is bolstered by the return of the New Jersey Historical Commission’s African American History Program,” said Acting New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way. “We encourage everyone to participate in in-person and virtual programs this month honoring the rich history of African Americans in New Jersey.”

“Juneteenth is a holiday of celebration and remembrance of deep injustice and loss,” said Noelle Lorraine Williams, Director of the African American History Program at the NJHC. “We must remember that there were still enslaved Black men and women in New Jersey even after Juneteenth. The programs planned by the African American History Program this month will expand and shine a light on the hidden histories and places that are the soul of the historical legacy, resilience, and stories of enslaved African Americans in the Garden State and region.”

This month the NJHC’s offerings are designed to appeal to young as well as older communities including exhibition tours, book clubs and resources for historic sites. Come spend the day on Saturday, June 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a special Juneteenth event featuring Beneath the Floorboards, a powerful exhibition telling the stories of the enslaved African Americans who once resided at Marlpit Hall in Middletown, NJ. This event documents the rarely told stories of enslaved people in Monmouth County and New Jersey at large, with curator-led tours of the exhibit, a panel of speakers, and cultural programming. At 12 p.m., there will be a welcome from the curators of the exhibition and a performance by vocalist, songwriter, and artist and jazz and blues vocalist Nadine LaFond. Light refreshments will be provided.

Participants are welcome to drop in and attend throughout the day. This free program is co-sponsored by Monmouth County Historical Association and Revolution NJ, New Jersey’s initiative to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026. Learn more and register. Additional programs this month included:

  • An event hosted by the Sankofa Collaborative on Tuesday, June 14, at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ called New Jersey’s Historic Sites and Crossroads. The day-long workshop featured keynote speaker Ryan P. Haygood from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and sessions discussing African American historic cemeteries, historic buildings, and emerging monuments.
  • A virtual book club on June 16, co-sponsored by the Newark Public Library, that discussed Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. Ona Judge, an enslaved woman in George Washington’s household, escaped to find freedom in New England. She was pursued by an intense manhunt led by Washington. Participants explored the story of Ona Judge and the larger themes of resilience, strength, and humanity commemorated throughout Juneteenth.

You can learn more about the African American History Program, including upcoming programs, resources, and more, by visiting and by following the New Jersey Historical Commission on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

These events are part of the 2022 Civic Season. Held annually between Juneteenth and July 4th, Civic Season is a new tradition for learning and action, hosted by more than 300 cultural institutions nationwide along with the next generation shaping our nation’s future, and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and AMERICAN HERITAGE® Chocolate. This summer, celebrate what you stand for. Get started at

About the African American History Program of the NJHC
The African American History Program of the New Jersey Historical Commission champions and partners with universities, historical societies, schools, and other institutions, groups, and individuals in a collaborative statewide effort to develop African American history in New Jersey.

About the New Jersey Historical Commission
The New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) is a state agency dedicated to the advancement of public knowledge and preservation of New Jersey history. Established by law in 1967, its work is founded on the fundamental belief that an understanding of our shared heritage is essential to sustaining a cohesive and robust democracy.


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