CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – A new historical marker in Camden will soon be on display. But it’s part of history that’s ugly and hard to talk about. City leaders hope the marker will spark an important conversation.
Pedestrian and vehicular traffic routinely breeze by the intersection of Federal Street and Delaware Avenue in Camden, with most having no knowledge of its significance.
The intersection will soon bear the mark of a horrific and devastatingly dark place in American history.
On Monday, the Camden County Historical Society unveiled a marker, which will soon be permanently placed at the intersection explaining how African slaves were bought and sold at an auction on that very corner during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
“We want to make sure that we remind everyone that this location that we have right here is one of the locations where slaves were brought and sold in auction many, many generations ago,” Camden County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez said.
It will be the second of three slave trade markers that will be placed at three former auction blocks throughout Camden.
Camden County, city and state officials, together with the Camden County Historical Society, are paying tribute to the millions of slaves who were involuntarily transported throughout the U.S. and through the New Jersey shoreline during the 1700s.
“Until the slave marker gets placed here that people have the opportunity to come and read and see what actually transpired here hundreds of years ago,” Rodriguez said, “people are not going to know what happened here.”
Officials hope the silent reminders of an inhumane and ugly past will speak volumes in bringing people together in the future.
“We feel strongly that’s the only way we can move forward in our society as far as brotherly love and bringing people together is to understand each and where everybody comes from,” Rodriguez said.
The permanent marker will be placed at the intersection of Federal Street and Delaware Avenue by the end of the week.
The first marker is already located outside of the Walt Whitman Center in Camden. It was placed there in 2017.