Edison, NJ – On Thursday, the Metuchen Edison Area Branch of the NAACP presented a program in recognition of Black History Month. At the meeting, the organization unveiled a commemorative stamp honoring performer, actor and dancer Gregory Hines. The event also featured a panel discussion, moderated by Chrystal McArthur, on the “The Great Migrations” referring to the history of migration by African Americans, Africans and Caribbeans . The panel explored the challenges, struggles, hopes, and dreams of migrants.
Drew Moore, a member of the Chapter, provided a historical overview of the migration, which he said began in significance after the Civil War and Emancipation. Mr. Moore also offered insight into the economic and social factors that fueled migration, especially between 1916 and 1970.
Frank McArthur, another panelist, shared a personal story. Mr. McArthur described his family’s journey from a farm in Collinston, Louisiana to San Francisco. He recalled his journey from a segregated South, where his early education was in a one room church school house, to an integrated environment in San Francisco. He also shared a painful memory of the death of his 19-year-old uncle who was reported in local papers as “jumping into the Ouachita Rivers.” It is still unexplained as to how his uncle was found weighted down with cement and with bruises on his face, explained Mr. McArthur.
Dorothy Dunkley Thompson offered the perspective of migration from the Caribbean, including her own story of migrating from Jamaica. Ms. Thompson, who earned a Master’s degree after moving to the United States, compared Jamaica’s educational system with the system in the United States. She discussed the limited resources available in her native Jamaica, describing how her mother, a teacher, made toys and other educational aids out of cardboard.
The audience also heard the story of Jacob Nkellefeck, who left his native Cameroon, a West African nation of 18 million people, seeking asylum in 2004. He described his experiences in Cameroon, a nation mired in civil war. He was able to move his family to the United States in 2014, Mr. Nkellefeck explained, stating that his only hope is that his children will have a better life, with greater educational and career opportunities.