Black Heritage Destinations in Southern New Jersey
Prior to the Civil War, New Jersey became a major route for enslaved people escaping bondage in the American South. Some legendary Underground Railroad sites still remain throughout the state. One strategic location: Cape May, where its legacy can be witnessed today, hidden in plain sight amid the town’s Victorian splendor.
Discover two highlights on the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom: Cape May MAC’s two-hour Underground Railroad Trolley Tour and the Stephen Smith House, former home of the impressive Black businessman, philanthropist, clergyman and abolitionist (across from the Harriet Tubman Museum; open by private appointment only).
Watch more incredible stories unfold on the Center for Community Arts' African American Heritage Walking Tour, offered in both guided and self-guided versions.
Atlantic City and Newtonville
Atlantic City isn’t just the East Coast seaside gaming and resort capital. It also offers fascinating treasures and traditions of the Black community.
Stroll around the Civil Rights Garden, among sculptures, winding pathways, plants, flowers, and Ginkgo trees, a beautiful homage to the history, events and people of the civil rights movement.
Look for the commemorative sign on the beach side of the Boardwalk at its intersection with S. Missouri Avenue, across from Caesars and next to Playground Pier. If you can, catch a jazz concert staged by the Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation.
Also in Atlantic City, check out the intriguing African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey inside the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University, as well as its nearby, second location in Newtonville, at the Dr. Martin Luther King Center. Both museum locations feature collections spanning generations of Black history, plus showings of rarely seen work by local artists.