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Local Museum Celebrates African American Women of the Sourland Region

originally published: 03/15/2023

Local Museum Celebrates African American Women of the Sourland Region

(SKILLMAN, NJ) -- The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) was founded by two visionary Black women, Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, and is led today by a majority-female and African American board. In honor of Women's History Month, SSAAM, central New Jersey’s only Black history museum, is excited to announce a special photographic exhibit of historical portraits of women from the Sourland region’s Black founding families and their descendants. The exhibit, entitled "African American Women of the Sourlands," will be open to the public on March 25 and 26, 2023.

“African American Women of the Sourlands” will showcase the photographs and stories of African American women who left their mark on New Jersey’s history—from the 18th Century to the present day. Visitors will learn about Sylvia Dubois, “the slave who whipped her mistress and earned her freedom;” Corinda True, who with her husband, donated the land on which SSAAM stands today; and Evelyn Brooks who, at 102 years-old is Sourland Mountain’s oldest resident and property owner, and an important link to Sourland’s African American past.

“I find myself constantly fascinated as I learn the stories of the founding African American women of the Sourland Region,” said SSAAM executive director Donnetta Johnson. “These are stories of grit, determination, dignity, strength, and the triumph of the human heart. These survivors overcame the horrors of enslavement and through their example, passed to their children skills of survival, and a belief in the value of creating familial joy. After emancipation, these African American women took care of their own families while working on the farms, and in the homes and businesses of Somerset, Mercer, and Hunterdon counties, contributing essential labor to the local economy. SSAAM founders Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills; along with president, Cat Fulmer-Hogan; and board secretary, Patricia Payne are proud descendants of these women of the Sourlands and are instrumental in carrying forth their legacy. I am pleased that SSAAM will honor these women by sharing these important stories.”

The exhibit will be on view to the public at the National Historic Register-listed Mt. Zion AME Church in Skillman, SSAAM’s home, adjacent to the historic True Family Farmstead. The museum features historic artifacts and displays that tell the story of African Americans in the Sourlands from the time of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the present day.

SSAAM’s mission is to tell the story of the unique culture, experiences, and contributions of the African American community of the Sourland Mountain region. As a female-led organization, SSAAM recognizes the importance of women’s stories—which have often gone untold. 

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This exhibit is free and open to the public and will run the weekend of March 25 and 26, from 1:30pm to 4:00pm.

Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum is located at 189 Hollow Road in Skillman, New Jersey.



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