“New Jersey is known as the Garden State,” says author Beverly Mills in the two-part documentary The Price of Silence. “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.”
The film treks across New Jersey to bring to life stories of the enslaved, 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.
Part one, The Price of Silence: The Forgotten Story of New Jersey’s Enslaved People, seeks to fill a gap in Garden State history by sharing the little-known legacy of slavery across New Jersey.
Part two, The Price of Silence: The Lasting Impact of Slavery in New Jersey, 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.
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.