The Long Journey Home

February 18, 2021 | Tracy Troxel

Reader Review of A Bicentennial History of the Black Community of Princeton, New Jersey, 1776-1976 by Jack Washington, Africa World Press, 2005.

My favorite history professor in college used to repeat this phrase at the end of nearly every lecture,

“The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.”

Too many times the reason we don’t learn from history is that we simply don’t know and understand the history. This is where Jack Washington’s work that chronicles the history of the black community in Princeton comes to our rescue.

Washington provides the reader with a history of Princeton that you might not hear if you have taken a tour of Princeton. It’s not the kind of history that is comfortable or easy to read about. Chapter by chapter Washington uses newspaper reports to carefully reconstruct what was happening in the black community in Princeton. He carefully substantiates the treatment of the black community by the town, the university and the seminary. He also documents the dominant attitudes of the majority culture in Princeton through the decades as well.

If you live in Princeton, I would strongly recommend that you read this book. If you want to make a difference in Princeton, I recommend that you read this book. Knowing the history of the black community in Princeton will give you a greater appreciation for the challenges that faced this community through the years. It will not be an easy read. But, it is a necessary read. Knowing the history will help us know how to respond in more helpful ways today concerning a problem that has been around for over 2 centuries.