Timberlane Middle School to hold ceremony honoring enslaved people

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Timberlane Middle School (TMS) will hold the first-ever Witness Stones ceremony in the state on April 28.

TMS, located in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District in Pennington, will host the ceremony from 9:30-10:45 a.m. at the Hopewell Old School Baptist Meeting House, 46-48 W. Broad St., Hopewell.

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Due to the size of the location, this event is by invitation only, according to a release.

Witness Stones Project, Inc., from Guilford, Connecticut, seeks to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities, according to the statement. The project provides research assistance, teacher development, and curriculum support to help middle school students study the history of slavery in their own communities.

Students explore the lives of enslaved individuals through primary source documents at public installation ceremonies, students, faculty, administrators, historians, public officials, local clergy, and the larger community will remember and honor the forgotten through music, poetry, oration, and reflection.

At this ceremony, TMS students will bring the Hopewell community together to place a Witness Stone (a permanent brass marker) to memorialize an enslaved
individual, Friday Truehart, who came to this region with the Reverend Oliver Hart from South Carolina, when he was a 13-year-old boy, according to the release.

This stone will honor where Friday lived, worked, and worshiped in the Hopewell region.

The project’s hope is that the students’ work and the public memorials will inspire communities to learn their true history, dismantle current inequities, and build a just future, according to the statement.

This project and event was organized in conjunction with the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) in Skillman, and its co-founders Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills.

TMS is the first school in the State of New Jersey to undertake a Witness Stones Project.

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