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Underground Railroad Museum of Burlington County to host Juneteenth event

Burington County residents are invited to commemorate Juneteenth this year at a special event in historic Timbuctoo, one of New Jerey’s largest communities of formerly enslaved people, and Rancocas State Park.

Experience of a Lifetime – A Juneteenth Event will be held on Saturday, June 15, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Rancocas State Park and Timbuctoo. It will feature music, storytellers, dancers, food trucks and tastings, vendors and other entertainment. There will also be an opportunity to join immersive “freedom walks” through the park to learn about the challenges and experiences faced by freedom-seeking enslaved individuals.

The free event is being organized by the Underground Railroad Museum of Burlington County with support from the Burlington County Commissioners, Burlington County Parks System and New Jerey State Council on the Arts.

The freedom walks will be held in Rancocas State Park at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Each walk will be approximately 3.5 miles and will be guided by leaders and storytellers from the Underground Railroad Museum and other participating organizations.

Walkers should enter the park at 794 Rancocas-Mount Holly Road in Westampton.

The festival at historic Timbuctoo will be held at 710 Rancocas Road in Westampton, which is the site of the settlement. It was created in 1826 by escaped slaves and grew to have more than 125 residents, a school, church and cemetery with gravestones of Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Joining Timbuctoo on the initial Black Heritage Trail sites is also the Bethlehem A.M.E. Church in Burlington City, one of the oldest Black churches in New Jersey. In 1883, the church pastor, Rev. Jeremiah H. Pierce, successfully brought a lawsuit challenging the forced attendance of his four children at the city’s segregated Black elementary school.

The Dr. James Still Historic Office and Education Center in Medford was also selected for the Heritage Trail. The site is the former office of Still, the renowned Black Doctor of the Pines, who gained distinction for his successful biracial medical practice and his natural herbal remedies.

For a listing of other significant historic black sites around Burlington County, visit http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/2067/African-American-Historic-Sites.

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