Overview

The first-of-its-kind New Jersey Reparations Council was convened by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice on Juneteenth 2023 to finally confront and repair the deep and often overlooked history of slavery in New Jersey and its lasting impact on the contemporary life of Black people in the state.

This powerful event, moderated by award-winning New Yorker journalist and Dean of Columbia Journalism School Jelani Cobb, will provide a one-year update on the Council’s work. That work will culminate on Juneteenth 2025 with a publication that will serve as a blueprint for how New Jersey can repair the enduring harm to Black people from slavery and its aftermath.

On this day of celebration for Black freedom, the audience will be treated to two lively panels comprised of the Council’s esteemed co-chairs and some of its members, as well as Institute representatives and other experts and Council supporters.

The evening will also feature a spoken poetry performance.

 

The Work of the New Jersey Reparations Council 

New Jersey has been called the “slave state of the North” for its deeply embedded history of slavery.

A direct line can be drawn from that history to today, when despite being one of the most racially diverse states in the country, New Jersey is home to some of the nation’s worst racial disparities when it comes to wealth, health, education and incarceration.

New Jersey’s vast inequality was designed during its founding as a colony when English settlers were given 150 acres of land plus an additional 150 acres for each enslaved African person they brought with them.

While slavery finally ended in New Jersey in 1866, its impact did not. Generations of racist policies followed that compounded over time, leading to our staggering $300,000 racial wealth gap between Black and white families. These policies included the cottager system, racially restrictive deeds, denial of GI benefits, redlining and mass incarceration.

The New Jersey Reparations Council, co-chaired by Taja Nia Henderson (Rutgers Law School) and Khalil Gibran Muhammad (Harvard Kennedy School), includes nine subject-matter committees that are in the process of studying our history and designing bold, strategic policies to repair the enduring harm from slavery – and to answer this affirmative question: What kind of reparative system does New Jersey need to build and invest in for Black people to finally be free? To thrive? To win?

 

opening remarks

Jelani Cobb, Dean of Columbia Journalism School; Writer for The New Yorker

Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

Maisha Simmons, Assistant Vice President, Equity and Culture, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

 

 

panelists

Jelani Cobb

moderator

Ryan Haygood

panelist

Maisha Simmons

panelist

Taja-Nia Henderson

panelist

Khalil Gibran Muhammad

panelist

Jean-Pierre Brutus

panelist

Leslie Alexander

panelist

Charles Boyer

panelist

Denise Rodgers

panelist

Alexis Karteron

panelist

David Troutt

panelist

Panelist bios can be found at njreparationscouncil.org

 

Register