History: How We Came To Be

During the bicentennial year of this horrific history, the Project held multiple public events to raise community awareness. In February, 2018, we held an informative panel at The Unitarian Society. In December, 2018, we held a Day of Remembrance at the East Brunswick Public Library that had standing room only attendance. In-between those two events, on May 25th, we held the first Recitation of Names. It took place in East Brunswick on the land that once held the Van Wickle residence used to hold captive some of the Lost Souls before they were placed on ships that sailed out of Perth Amboy.

In August of 2018, we learned that we received an Incubation Grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities to help us with a year of community conversations and planning for the memorial. This grant helped to fund the 2018 Day of Remembrance, as well as the second Recitation of Names held on May 22, 2019 at Baker’s Barn in East Brunswick. Glenis Redmond, State Theatre New Jersey’s Poet-in-Residence, who agreed to partner with the Project, wrote the poem “How to Remember Constellations,” which was commissioned for this occasion. The NJCH grant also helped to launch our efforts to provide free to the public educational materials for different age levels, as well as to vastly improve this very web site.

In April, 2019, the LSP received the Bennett Social Justice Award from the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregation (UUA). “The award panel was moved by the Lost Souls Memorial Project, the partnerships you are building through it, the community outreach and engagement—including with youth—and your dedication to prophetic truth-telling,” stated Susan Leslie, of the UUA Organizing Strategy Team.

The fall of 2019 has been good to the LSP. In late August, we learned that we were awarded a second Incubation Grant from the NJCH to help us focus our efforts on memorial design, as well as to complete our curriculum development efforts. The Magyar Foundation also chose to gift us $500 in financial support for our efforts.

With the support and leadership of Mayor Brad Cohen, the East Brunswick Township is partnering with the LSP, providing land to site the future memorial near the current Community Arts Center. We are so deeply grateful for this contribution that allows us to go forward.

The third Recitation of Names is planned for late May, 2020.

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