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Mellon Awards $600,000 Grant to African American Museum in Montgomery Twp

January 19, 2023

The Mellon Foundation awarded a $600,000 grant to the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) in Montgomery Township in December. The two-year grant will support cultural education programming at the only museum in central New Jersey to tell the story of African Americans from the transatlantic slave trade to the present day.

Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum

The Mt. Zion AME Church, which houses the museum, is listed in the National Historic Register. It is located on Hollow Road in Skillman. The Mt. Zion congregation was originally organized in 1866 by African American descendants of free and enslaved people who lived in the Sourland region.

This year, SSAAM – together with the Sourland Conservancy and the support of donors – was able to acquire the adjacent five-acre True Farmstead. The historic farmstead was once home to an African American Civil War veteran as well as descendants of Friday Truehart, who was brought to New Jersey from South Carolina as an enslaved boy.

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With funding from the Mellon Foundation, SSAAM will continue to develop its heritage garden at the farmstead and transform the farmhouse into a vibrant exhibition and education space. The museum plans to add staff in education, marketing, and fund development.

Grant funds also will be used to hire consultants on local African American history, heritage gardening, and Black culinary traditions, as well as to produce educational materials for general visitors and school outreach.

“SSAAM’s ... powerful and deeply rooted African American history and larger-than-life historical figures, allow the museum to offer a broader and truer vision of the past to inspire future generations,” said SSAAM Executive Director Donnetta Johnson. “SSAAM is grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this grant, which positions the museum to serve as a leading cultural organization in central New Jersey and beyond.”

Learn more about the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum at


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