Traveling exhibit showcases history of Blacks in the Revolutionary War in NJ

Cyril Josh Barker | 6/28/2018, midnight
An exhibit traveling through the Garden State spotlights African-Americans’ contributions on the battlefront during the American Revolutionary War and what ...
“Oh Freedom! Blacks on the Battlefront and in the Aftermath of the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey” New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry,

An exhibit traveling through the Garden State spotlights African-Americans’ contributions on the battlefront during the American Revolutionary War and what happened to them afterward.

“Oh Freedom! Blacks on the Battlefront and in the Aftermath of the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey” is on loan from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry and features three double-sided panels about both British Loyalist and American Rebel freedom fighters. The exhibit also contains authentic documents from the New Jersey State Library and Archives and other sources.

“While the history of the African-American struggle is a stain on our nation, it is important that we do not forget that history,” said Passaic County Freeholder T.J. Best. “I am grateful that the NJDEP loaned this important exhibit to our museum, and I am looking forward to our residents being able to learn more about the birth of our country.”

The exhibit will be on display at the Dey Mansion Museum in Wayne through July, and then at the Passaic County Courthouse Rotunda in Paterson for August and September.

With the notion of gaining freedom from slavery, Blacks comprised nearly 5,000 American troops, or 20 percent, and an estimated 10,000 served on the British side during the Revolutionary War.

In New Jersey, the Militia Act of May 1777 allowed masters to enlist slaves as substitutes in the war. Freed Blacks at the time were able to serve in integrated regiments.

New Jersey was the final northern state to abolish slavery in 1804. However, some slaves were held until the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865. Slaves in the state were mostly used for port labor in Bergen County, which had the largest number of slaves in the New Jersey.