This multiyear initiative seeks to explore the largely untold experiences of African Americans in Asbury Park, New Jersey from the founding of the city in the 1870s to the present. Asbury Park is well-known as a site of urban rebellion, but it has also been a pivotal center of black settlement, Jim Crow-era segregation, American music culture, and social justice. In many respects, the story of African Americans in Asbury Park provides us with a window into the larger history of African Americans in the United States.
Phase I of the project addresses the outsized role that the 1970 riots have played in the public’s perception of Asbury Park. We hope to explore the existing archives and historiography, and conduct oral history interviews with as many willing narrators as possible. Our findings will be accessible to the public via the web, where an interactive map will deliver oral history narratives and primary sources linked to places. A companion monograph or brick-and-mortar exhibit are both distinct possibilities. Collaborating with community members and constituencies will be key, and we hope that our work will become a larger platform for conversations about social equality and restorative justice in Asbury Park, New Jersey.