Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins announced today that she is spearheading an initiative to send up to 500 eighth graders in the city’s Central Ward to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Chaneyfield Jenkins said she is putting together a committee to raise funds and organize a trip on February 16 for eighth-grade students who attend public schools – both district and charter – in the Central Ward.

“It’s extremely important for the youth in our city, especially our African-American students, to understand their history and to connect it with what’s happening today,” Chaneyfield Jenkins said. “Many of our youngsters might not be able to visit the museum, which is why I am undertaking this initiative for the children in my ward.”

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In order to be invited on the trip, students must complete at least three hours of community service on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is recognized as a National Day of Service. The committee will identify organizations in Newark where students can volunteer.

If more than 500 students participate in National Day of Service, a random lottery will be used to select students for the trip.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened on Sept. 24 on the National Mall. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, it is the only national museum dedicated exclusively to documenting African-American life, history and culture.

The museum explores what it means to be an American and share how American values like resiliency, optimism, and spirituality are reflected in African American history and culture.

“A trip to the museum will give our children a sense of their place in the world and help them understand that they’re ancestors were integral to making America what it is today,” Chaneyfield Jenkins said.

The is being organized in partnership with the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts and culture community development organization.

“We are happy to partner with the councilwoman on this worthy initiative,” said Anthony Smith, the executive director of the LPCCD. “We are as enthusiastic as the councilwoman is about giving children in the city this wonderful experience.”