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Central NJ's Only African American History Museum to Hold 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration

originally published: 05/14/2023

Central NJ

(SKILLMAN, NJ) -- The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), Central New Jersey’s only African American history museum sharing the history of Black Americans since the trans-Atlantic Slave trade, will hold its second annual Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 17, from 12:00pm to 4:00pm (rain or shine).

Their Juneteenth celebration, “Freedom Forward,” is a family-friendly event that aims to educate, celebrate, and promote unity and cohesion within our culturally diverse community. The event will feature music by the Jon Ware Quintet featuring Gina Ware, a youth rock band from the Allegra School of Music and Arts, opera singer, Dr. Sonya Headlam, an original play written by Ryan Kilpatrick and performed by youth actors from the Allegra School of Music and Arts, original poetry by Olivia Altiidor, a youth poet from Hillsborough High School, a stone mosaic workshop from Emmy award-winning educator and artist, Dr. Ronah Harris and a family tree heritage workshop led by the Morven Museum. The event will feature classic African American barbecue from The Big Easy of Trenton and vegan food options from Mukolee Food Truck. The day will also feature a Juneteenth museum exhibit and activities in our Heritage Garden and tours of the grounds. This family-friendly event will have fun games and activities for all to enjoy.

The event will take place at SSAAM, a National Historic-Registered Mt Zion AME church in Skillman and the adjacent True Farmstead, a historically African American-owned farmstead.

“If you attended SSAAM’s first Juneteenth event last year, you’ll certainly recall how amazing it was to celebrate this holiday of African American freedom from enslavement on the grounds of the historically African American-owned, True Farmstead. The farmstead was originally owned by Harry Reasoner, a Black Civil War veteran. His widow Corinda later married Spencer True, a descendant of Friday Truehart, an enslaved child who was taken from his mother Dinah in Charleston and brought to Hopewell Borough at the age of 13 years by the pastor of Old School Baptist Church," said Executive Director Donnetta Johnson.

She added: "In the early 1800s there were thirteen thousand enslaved people in New Jersey and Friday Truehart, the ancestor of our co-founder Beverly Mills and board member Pat Payne was amongst them. Friday gained his freedom in 1819. I can’t help but appreciate the importance of having the opportunity to recognize and honor the suffering, sacrifice and triumph of those enslaved African men, women and children whose skills, expertise and labor was instrumental in building the wealth of this region and indeed this country. It is outstanding that we get to celebrate Jubilee or Juneteenth, a day commemorating freedom, on the very grounds where the Reasoner and True families most certainly appreciated what it meant to be free from bondage and African American landowners in the Sourland region."

On Saturday, June 17th, free shuttle buses will run every 15 minutes from 11:45am through 3:15pm at Montgomery High School parking lot to and from the event on Hollow Road in Skillman. Limited parking will be available at the True Farmstead for the handicapped, those with limited mobility, event vendors and performers. All others should take the convenient shuttle buses. SSAAM invites all to come together and celebrate this special day of music, art, poetry, fun activities, food and join SSAAM in moving Freedom Forward.

They would like to thank their event sponsors, Princeton University Art Museum, Montgomery Township, Bloomberg Corporation, Genmab and many local institutions, businesses and corporations for their generous support in making this event possible.

For more information on how to sponsor SSAAM’s Juneteenth “Freedom Forward,” purchase a vendor table, and tickets, please click here. Adult general admission is $25 by online pre-sale only and $30 at the venue; tickets for children 14 and under are $15 presale and $20 at the venue.

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