The Passaic County Department of Cultural & Historic Affairs installed a traveling exhibit entitled “Oh Freedom! Blacks on the Battlefront and in the Aftermath of the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey” at the Dey Mansion Museum, in Wayne NJ. The exhibit, on loan from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Division of Parks and Forestry, spotlights African-Americans’ contributions on the battlefront during the American Revolution and their outcomes at the War’s end.
“While the history of the African-American struggle is a stain on our nation, it is important that we do not forget that history,” said Freeholder TJ Best. “I am grateful that the NJDEP loaned this important exhibit to our museum, and I am looking forward to our residents being able to learn more about the birth of our country.”
Blacks fought on both sides during the War, seeking personal freedom while many American colonists sought political freedom. Black soldiers comprised nearly 5,000 or 20 percent of American troops. On the British side, the number who served is estimated to approach 10,000. Blacks joined whichever side they believed offered them the best prospect of freedom.
The exhibit’s name “Oh Freedom!” captures the key reason blacks chose to serve: freedom from slavery and oppression. The exhibit’s three double-sided panels feature details about both British Loyalist and American Rebel freedom fighters and references authentic documents from the New Jersey State Library and Archives and other sources.
The traveling exhibit will be on display at the Dey Mansion Museum through July 2018 and will move to the Passaic County Courthouse Rotunda in Paterson, NJ for the months of August and September 2018.