Princeton church will display soil collected from site of lynching in New Jersey


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The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton will be displaying soil that was collected from the site where the only recorded lynching in Eatontown of Samuel “Mingo” Jack Johnson took place in 1886.

The church, located at 50 Cherry Hill Road, will house the collection from May 15-22 and can be seen during its Sunday worship hours of 10:30 a.m. to noon.

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Johnson was an African American resident of Eatontown who was murdered on March 5, 1886, after being arrested on unsubstantiated charges of raping a White woman. He was dragged by a local mob from his cell and brutally beaten and hanged to death. This was the only known lynching in New Jersey.

During May, vessels of soil will travel to various sites including the Eatontown Library, Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library, in Shrewsbury, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Princeton, the Red Bank Library and at the Long Branch Library.

A vessel of soil will be housed permanently at the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center, located in Red Bank, in time for Juneteenth.

This project by the New Jersey Social Justice Remembrance Coalition (NJSJRC) in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, asks viewers to join in bearing witness to this personal and community tragedy, and to reflect on actions we can take today to end the legacies of racial violence and inequality.

The EJI Community Remembrance Collection Project gathers soil at lynching sites throughout the United States to display in exhibits bearing the victims’ names. Communities document and memorialize sites of enslavement, racial terror lynching, and segregation, for the purpose of fostering meaningful dialogue about race and justice today. The NJSJRC held a soil collection ceremony last October that attracted a large outpouring of community members from all sectors.

“Bearing Witness” is a table-top display with an engraved soil jar, accompanied with literature and handouts. The exhibit is at no cost to the host organization.

To become a site location for “Bearing Witness,” inquire at

The Equal Justice Initiative website offers many useful and free resources, including lesson plans, films, oral histories and informative articles. Visit

The Racial Justice Ministry at UUCP works both within the congregation and with community partners to eliminate racism and can be reached at

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