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2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration in Skillman

Posted June 15, 2023


The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) in Skillman will hold its second annual Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 17, from noon to 4 pm (rain or shine). The museum’s mission is to share the history of Black Americans since the trans-Atlantic Slave trade.


“Our Juneteenth celebration, Freedom Forward, is a family-friendly event that aims to educate, celebrate, and promote unity and cohesion within our culturally diverse community,” says Executive Director Donnetta Johnson.

SSAAM promotes a broader understanding of American history.


The event will feature music by the Jon Ware Quintet featuring Gina Ware; a youth rock band from the Allegra School of Music and Arts; opera singer Sonya Headlam; an original play written by Ryan Kilpatrick and performed by young actors from the Allegra School of Music and Arts; original poetry by Hillsborough High School student Olivia Altiidor; a stone mosaic workshop from Emmy award-winning educator and artist Ronah Harris, PhD; and a family tree heritage workshop led by the Morven Museum.


Classic African American barbecue from The Big Easy of Trenton and vegan food options from Mukolee Food Truck will be available. The day will also feature a Juneteenth museum exhibit and activities in the Heritage Garden and tours of the grounds.


The event will take place at SSAAM, a National Historic- Registered Mount Zion AME church on Hollow Road, and the adjacent True Farmstead, a historically African Americanowned farmstead. “The True Farmstead was originally owned by Harry Reasoner, a Black Civil War veteran,” Johnson says. “His widow Corinda later married Spencer True, a descendant of Friday Truehart, an enslaved child who was taken from his mother Dinah in Charleston and brought to Hopewell Borough at the age of 13 years by the pastor of Old School Baptist Church.”


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In the early 1800s there were 13,000 enslaved people in New Jersey. Friday Truehart, the ancestor of SSAAM co-founder Beverly Mills and board member Pat Payne, was amongst them. Friday gained his freedom in 1819. Executive Director Johnson says, “I can’t help but appreciate the importance of having the opportunity to recognize and honor the suffering, sacrifice and triumph of those enslaved African men, women and children whose skills, expertise and labor was instrumental in building the wealth of this region and indeed this country. “It is outstanding that we get to celebrate Juneteenth on the very grounds where the Reasoner and True families most certainly appreciated what it meant to be free from bondage and African American landowners in the Sourland region.”


Free shuttle buses will run every 15 minutes from 11:45 am through 3:15 pm from the Montgomery High School parking lot to the event on Hollow Road in Skillman.


Purchase tickets at ssaamuseum.org/juneteenth.

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