What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

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Just three years before he gave this speech, on April 17, 1849, Douglass came to Newark – the Institute’s home – to speak against slavery to the city’s abolitionist community at the Plane Street Colored Church, also known as the First African Presbyterian Church.

A 1905 picture of the Plane Street Colored Church, also known as the First African Presbyterian Church located in Newark, where Frederick Douglass spoke in 1849. (New Jersey Historical Society)

New Jersey is no stranger to racial injustice or the history of slavery that gave birth to it.

Indeed, our work at the Institute is a reminder both of the progress we have made since Douglass spoke those words – and of the considerable distance yet to travel.

The Institute’s Black in New Jersey 2021-2022 Action Agenda illustrates how that injustice and cruelty look for Black people in New Jersey 169 July 4ths later – and why our work is so essential.

NJ Racism StairwayAs we continue to emerge from a challenging year, we wish you a weekend of self-care and connection with loved ones.

We hope you’ll also join us in making it a weekend for reflection about who we are as a nation and a state, who we have been and who we seek to be as we continue to build on the work of generations past to bend the arc toward justice.

CNN Black History 2021Be well and thank you as always for standing with us.

Ryan P. Haygood

President & CEO, New Jersey Institute of Social Justice