First Historical Markers Recognizing Slave Trade in Camden Unveiled

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New Jersey's U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D) spoke in Camden on Monday, November 27th, at an ancestral remembrance ceremony.

“Slaves were sold right here,” said Booker during Monday's ceremony. “This part of our history must be remembered.”

Back in Colonial times, three ferry stops served what is now the city of Camden. This is where the Camden County Historical Society can first document the selling of enslaved people in this area.

“We’re hoping that these three historical markers on the waterfront will help inform visitors and form some appreciation of that important part of our history,” said Chris Perks, president of Camden County Historical Society, during the ceremony.

This part of our history must be remembered.

After extensive research on New Jersey’s slave trade, the historical society discovered three spots connected to the time period, including one on the Rutgers-Camden campus.

“We can bring to light, by unveiling these markers, that the slave trade and the Africans had an impact on the city of Camden and the Northeast region,” said Francisco Moran, mayor-elect for Camden, before the unveiling.

Local and state officials said it’s important to use these markers to keep history and stories alive.

“Never forget where we came from, what we did as a nation, what we did as a world,” said Rep. Donald Norcross (1st District), at the podium. “But coming together as one, we can make sure it never happens again.”

Booker added that we can use the nation’s history as lessons for our future.

“The challenge that we have in America right now is that we are not dipping into the richness of our history, to tell the truth, that is necessary for us to make it into a brighter future for all,” said Booker.

In September, Booker introduced a bill to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol, to ensure public monuments reflect America’s values.

After today’s ceremony, he said that the Capitol “is not the place for those statues and is elevating a history that is hurtful, a history that should be told, but not in that way.”

But here in Camden, we should continue telling the history of those who lost their voices, said those gathered at the ceremony.

“It is our duty to accurately add this history of slavery to this city, state, and the nation’s narrative,” said Derek Davis, board member for the Camden County Historical Society.

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