In February, 2015, The Press of Atlantic City published an article on the historical legacy of the African American community in Ocean City, New Jersey. In the article, Ocean City Historical Museum Board President Ken Cooper discussed the lack of inclusion of African Americans in the museum saying, "We realize black history is important in Ocean City. We are working on getting it together. It has taken some years. A lot of that older generation has passed on. We've lost some of that old history. And that's what we're trying not [to] do." Museum board members, city councilmembers, and community members all agree that more must be done in the efforts to preserve and promote the rich and lengthy history of this community.
To begin progress in this endeavor, we formed the Ocean City Juneteenth Organization (a registered New Jersey non-profit organization) to hold an annual celebration to honor, maintain, and share the important history of Ocean City's African American community. The steering committee and several sub-committees are made up of a number of current and former residents of Ocean City with strong and heartfelt ties to the community in which we were born and raised. It is our hope that this event builds a much needed tradition of honoring our community. In February and March, we served as guest curators at the Ocean City Historical Museum for an exhibit - "The Seasons of Life: The African American Community in Ocean City" - to recognize the rich history of the Black community in Ocean City. In December, we hosted a Holiday Drive and Day of Service to provide "care bags" and clothes to the less fortunate in our area.
Joshua Baker, Takiya Wilson, and Brittany
Board of Directors
Our first annual Juneteenth Celebration & Brunch was a huge success! The event was attended by more than 150 community members. Attendees were treated to local vendor wares, musical selections, a reading on the historical significance of Juneteenth, and clips from a documentary describing the rich history of the Black community in Ocean City and featuring interviews with our honorees and their families. Our second annual event - the Ocean City Family Reunion - was also a huge success! We had a cook-out, games, face-painting, bouncy houses, and Black owned business vendors.
As we continue to plan for future events, we are asking for members of the Ocean City and Cape May County communities to help sponsor the the organization. All Juneteenth Celebration sponsors will be recognized in our program book to be distributed during the next event. Monetary or in-kind donations greater than $300 will be recognized on a Sponsors Banner displayed during the brunch. Checks may be written to Ocean City Juneteenth Organization or submitted directly to Ocean First Bank.
We also need lots of volunteers for the event - please let us know if you would like to help out!