Lost Souls memorial project receives grant to honor slaves from Middlesex County

STAFF VASHTI HARRIS

EAST BRUNSWICK – The Lost Souls Public Memorial Project was chosen as one of nine projects to receive an incubation grant from the NJ Council for the Humanities.

The $5,000 grant will support efforts to raise community awareness about 144 African Americans sold into permanent slavery by a corrupt Middlesex County judge in 1818 and to develop a comprehensive plan to build a public memorial in East Brunswick so that the “lost souls” never be forgotten.

The New Brunswick NAACP, the New Jersey Chapter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society and The Unitarian Society of East Brunswick, as well as individual community members, have taken the lead to bring this project to life, sponsoring public events throughout 2018, marking the 200th anniversary of this chapter in local history, according to information provided by Karen Johnston, minister of the Unitarian Society.

Over the summer, students from the Landscape Architecture Department at Rutgers University developed design concepts for the proposed memorial. In the coming months, the project will sponsor gatherings to gain community input on the memorial design. According to Johnston, “Ensuring that these souls are re-membered back to our community is an act of healing that I believe will be powerful for this generation and generations to come. Having community input, especially from groups with strong African American representation, is very important to us as a project.”

“The New Jersey Council for the Humanities offers the Incubation Grant program to support programs that are in development,” Director of Grants and Programs Gigi Naglak said in the statement. “Public humanities programs explore a significant question about our shared history, values, culture and beliefs. The nine grantee organizations will be able to research, plan, explore or pilot a program that address these important questions.”

Bringing the bicentennial events to a close, there will be a Day of Remembrance held at 2 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the East Brunswick Library.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/lostsoulspublicmemorialproject.