We celebrate Black History Month to recognize the sacrifices, contributions, and achievements of African Americans to the United States and the world.
Black History Month is not just a time to celebrate African Americans who have paved the way for us all to thrive, it is also a time to consider how we can continue to create space for minority communities in our daily lives and institutions.
In Gloucester County, we have our own pieces of African American History with the Richardson Avenue School and Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Built in 1930 as a Masonic Hall, the Richard Avenue School building was leased in 1931 to establish the state’s last “separate but equal” school for African-American children. It is the only segregated school structure still standing in New Jersey. Since the school closed in 1942, the structure has served as an unofficial community center for African American residents in Swedesboro.
Mount Zion AME Church in Swedesboro was built in 1799 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. It played an important role in the Underground Railroad in South Jersey and still has a trap door where the congregation would hide runaway slaves.
On site, is a cemetery that contains the remains of some fugitives and African American veterans of the Civil War. The burial ground was estimated to be active from the 1830s to the 1930s and may contain up to 200 unmarked graves. Thirteen black soldiers from the Civil War are buried at the site.
Gloucester County is committed to making our County an equitable and safe place for all residents. We will continue to honor the history and sacrifices made by our African American ancestors and will uphold their legacy with the work we do for our residents.
Jim Jefferson, Commissioner