December 15, 2021

Thanking All Involved in Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District Heritage Plaques Commemoration

To the Editor:

On April 11, 2016 the community known as the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood had the distinction of becoming the 20th Historic District in Princeton, New Jersey. A neighborhood with a history of proud and hard-working families who, from slavery and migration from southern states, thrived and survived in a segregated, Jim Crow, redlined, discriminating town.

Out of necessity to meet personal, economical, educational, spiritual, and social needs in a town that did not welcome its residents beyond Jackson Street (now Paul Robeson Place), the Witherspoon-Jackson community became a self-sustained neighborhood with religious institutions, family stores, businesses, fraternal organizations, social establishments, a public school, and a designated cemetery. There were also African American businesses on Nassau, Spring, and Hulfish streets.

In 2016, after the 20th Historic designation, the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society (WJHCS) began as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a dedicated Board of Trustees. Our mission is to research, preserve, understand, appreciate, and celebrate the rich and proud history of African Americans in Princeton.

The goal three years ago to commemorate 29 establishments owned and operated by the residents of this community has been completed by the dedication of the Heritage plaques. Two years ago the plaques honoring the four African American churches were dedicated. On Saturday, December 11, 15 heritage plaques were unveiled as approximately 40 persons joined the walking tour as each plaque was presented. Those yet to be placed on buildings that were noted establishments were on display at Studio Hillier.

The Witherspoon-Jackson Board of Trustees wishes to publicly extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the individuals, organizations, members of the four churches, and establishments who donated the 29 Heritage plaques. We acknowledge and thank all persons who continue to support the WJHCS mission and vision. To those who walked along the Heritage Tour to see the unveiling of the plaques, we thank you for joining in the journey.

I wish to extend a special thank you to the Studio Hillier architects for the design, preparation, installation, and presentation of the Heritage plaques. I am grateful to each Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society trustee for their dedicated service, support, and vision for the future of African American life in Princeton.

Shirley A. Satterfield
President, Witherspoon-Jackson
Historical and Cultural Society
Witherspoon Street