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The Story of The Search for Freedom in New Jersey

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In the next installment to “The Price of Silence” series we explore the African American flight to New Jersey during the Great Migration. They were in search of a better life that they hoped would be devoid of the racism and discrimination that they were experiencing in the southern states. Not only did Black Americans hope to find better homes to raise their families in, but there was also the promise of employment opportunities in the industries that were prospering in New Jersey after the first and second world wars.

Truehart Productions, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation was formed in 2019 for the sole purpose of producing a documentary about the African American experience in New Jersey during this critical time when so many are struggling to understand the systemic racism that exists in our country.  

Throughout the migration, wherever black Southerners went, the hostility and hierarchies that fed the Southern caste system seemed to carry over into the receiving cities in the North. Newark and Trenton were no exception as they too erected barriers to black mobility that continued until the early 1960s and beyond. Even in the places where they were permitted, blacks were relegated to the lowest-paying, most dangerous jobs, barred from many unions and, at some companies, hired only as strikebreakers, which served to further divide black workers from white.

In 1916, life in Newark and Trenton changed dramatically. With the United States' entry into the first world war in Europe, both cities with their wealth of industries were called upon to produce a vast variety of war materials. Due in part to the promise of employment, between 1910 and 1930 the black population in New Jersey grew from 89,760 to 208,828, an increase of 132 percent.

Additionally, Black people who migrated during the second phase of the Great Migration following World War II were met with housing discrimination, restrictive covenants and redlining which created segregated neighborhoods. They were confined to the most dilapidated housing in the least desirable sections of the cities to which they fled and this helped fuel the current racial disparities in wealth in New Jersey.

We are raising funds for this important project and have produced the short film found here, to use as a promotional tool.  We desperately need support for legal, accounting and general operating expenses. Ultimately, we hope to raise $200,000 to complete this independent film, which will be publicly available for distribution to schools, universities and NJ Public Broadcasting stations. Won’t you help jumpstart this important project with a donation? No donation is too small, and you can also help spread the word by sharing this page and by inviting your friends on Facebook to like the Truehart Productions page.

Linda Caldwell Epps, Ph.D, President of 1804 Consultants, Newark, NJ will be one of the scholars advising on the content of the production.


Ridgeley Hutchinson
Lambertville, NJ
Truehart Productions

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