While Juneteenth is a celebration of the emancipation of all enslaved people, it is also a time to consider the brutal history of slavery and its legacy. Unpaid labor underpinned the economic prosperity of New Jersey in the 18th and 19th centuries and its location along the coast facilitated the slave trade. The people who built the state, and their descendants, never received compensation and today’s Black community in New Jersey continues to experience harms such as high rates of infant mortality, incarceration and one of the highest racial wealth gaps in the country.

This month’s PSEG True Diversity Film Series selection, The Forgotten Story of New Jersey’s Enslaved People, preserves the legacy of slavery in New Jersey and how it prevented Black property ownership and access to other resources. It raises important questions such as what types of government policies can repair generations of inequality? And how should slavery and its impact be taught in schools?

This month’s Standing in Solidarity panel is curated by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and is part of NJPAC’s Juneteenth celebrations.
How to participate:

  1. Register here.
  2. Watch the two-part series The Forgotten Story of New Jersey’s Enslaved People at home: Part 1. Part 2.
  3. Join us for an in-person discussion at NJPAC on Monday, June 19, at 6PM.

Preceding the conversation, NJPAC’s African American Employee Resource Group is hosting a Juneteenth celebration in Harriet Tubman Square featuring drumming, dance, poetry and jazz at 5PM. A spirited parade will lead celebrants to NJPAC for the Standing in Solidarity conversation and a Juneteenth Marketplace — with live music and other surprises — will follow in the Prudential Hall lobby from 7:30 – 10PM. RSVP here.



Jean-Pierre Brutus

Senior Counsel in the Economic Justice Program, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
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Linda Caldwell Epps

President and CEO, 1804 Consultants
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Damon Jones

Associate Professor, University of Chicago 
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Tomas Varela Jr.

Executive Director, New Jersey Black Empowerment Coalition
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