NJEA donates $75,000 to fund Amistad Journey

The New Jersey State Board of Education today unanimously accepted a $75,000 donation from NJEA to fund the Amistad Journey, a program that will enable educators to travel to historic sites of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade in the United States and Africa. The Amistad Journey will be administered through the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. The commission, created through legislation passed in 2002, is a 23-member body charged with ensuring that African American history, contributions and experiences are taught in New Jersey’s classrooms.

“Though the law establishing the Amistad Commission has been in place for 17 years, and much work has been done by educators to bring the Amistad Curriculum into our schools, there is more that must be done,” NJEA President Marie Blistan said.

Members of the State Board of Education, the Amistad Commission, and NJEA staff following the State Board’s acceptance of NJEA’s $75,000 donation to the Amistad Journey. At the center, are NJ Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet and NJEA Associate Director Gary Melton.

The Amistad Journey resulted from the work of the NJEA Amistad Stakeholder group, which was initially convened by NJEA President Marie Blistan in September 2018. The purpose of the NJEA Amistad Stakeholder group is to ensure that students receive an intentional, authentic and inclusive learning experience that will develop students’ academic strengths and cultural sensibilities about the inclusive nature of history and acknowledge the contributions of Africans and African Americans to U.S. history through the New Jersey Amistad Curriculum.

The intention of the Amistad Journey is to further enhance educators’ ability to deeply integrate Black history into every element of the curriculum. In addition to NJEA and the New Jersey Department of Education, groups participating on the Amistad Stakeholder Group include:

  • New Jersey Association of School Administrators
  • New Jersey Association of School Business Officials
  • New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association
  • New Jersey PTA
  • New Jersey School Boards Association
  • New Jersey Amistad Commission

NJEA Associate Director Gary Melton Jr. represented Blistan at today’s State Board of Education meeting as the board voted to accept the association’s donation.

“The Amistad Journey is going to be a strong component for our educators in this work, which will ultimately benefit students,” Melton said. “This is a change agent in the world of education that will make our world a better place.”

On behalf of Blistan, Melton thanked former NJEA Executive Director Ed Richardson for his support and early work with the Amistad Journey and Jacqui Greadington, a long-time NJEA leader, who advocated for the importance of the journey experience.

With this infusion of funds, the NJDOE will now move forward with developing the application process for the Amistad Journey.

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