August 23, 2022 – NEWARK, NJ – NJ PBS will broadcast both episodes of the two-part documentary, The Price of Silence, about the history of slavery in New Jersey, on Wednesday, August 24, beginning at 8 p.m. (check local listings).  It had previously aired part one earlier this summer.

“The story of New Jersey’s enslaved people is often overshadowed in the national dialogue of slavery,” said NJ PBS General Manager Joe Lee. “By bringing both episodes of The Price of Silence to the primetime limelight, we hope to elevate that history and educate our citizens in a way that only public media dares to.”

Part one, The Price of Silence: The Forgotten Story of New Jersey’s Enslaved People, airs August 24 at 8 p.m. and seeks to fill a gap in Garden State history by sharing the little-known legacy of slavery across New Jersey. Historians and experts in the film have devoted their careers to studying slavery in New Jersey. Stream part one now.

Part two, The Price of Silence: The Lasting Impact of Slavery in New Jersey, premieres Wednesday, August 24 at 8:30 p.m. and continues the exploration of slavery in New Jersey with moving stories about events that took place during the 19th century, followed by the lasting impact that slavery still has on the African American community today.  Watch a trailer here.

“New Jersey is known as the Garden State,” says author Beverly Mills in the film. “We’re known for our blueberries. We’re known for our corn. We’re known for our peaches.  But we’re not known for the slaves that were here tilling the soil.  We’re not known for the whole history of slavery connected to New Jersey and how slavery was the underpinning of much of the wealth of New Jersey.”

Enslavement was prolific in New Jersey, from its very founding in the 1600s as a colony, and when it became a manufacturing hub that supplied the Southern states with leather goods and other products. Its eye on production and profit created a demand for the cost-effective services of the enslaved, a demand that only grew as New Jersey developed into a major maritime port. What’s more, white slave owners could receive the equivalent of land rebates from Great Britain based upon the number of enslaved working their land.

“New Jersey was the last Northern state to even attempt to abolish slavery,” says Linda Caldwell Epps, Ph.D. and CEO of 1804 Consultants, in the film. “And (it) was probably the Northern state with the strongest sympathies towards the South. Because it was the Southern-most Northern state, it had a lucrative trade policy with the Southern states.”

The film treks across New Jersey to bring stories of the enslaved to life, visiting the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cape May, Mercer County’s Stoutsburg Cemetery and Hopewell, an area where enslaved Black families were among its founders, the Bainbridge House at Princeton University, and Perth Amboy in Middlesex County, where slave ships docked across from New York’s Staten Island. It also explores New Jersey-based organizations like Lost Souls Public Memorial Project that are trying to uncover and preserve the memories of the enslaved, with the help of citizens in East Brunswick and other parts of Middlesex and Somerset counties.

“I never learned about this in school,” says Mills in the film, regarding the history of slavery in New Jersey. “If anything, we were taught to feel shame. And today…I feel nothing but pride and I feel empowered.”

The Price of Silence is a production of Truehart Productions and Public Media NJ, Inc. Truehart’s Executive Producers are Ridgeley Hutchinson and Andrew Schmertz; Keyon Williams is producer/editor; Antoinetta Stallings is producer.  Joe Lee is Executive in Charge for NJ PBS. Major funding for The Price of Silence was provided by Chasing the Dream with support from The JPB Foundation and additional funding from The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim, III.