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Civil Rights in New Jersey, 1945-2020: Home

On April 16, 1945, Governor Walter Edge signed a bill enacting the country's first civil rights law, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Civil Rights in New Jersey, 1945-2020: Seventy Five Years of the Law Against Discrimination


Thousands of black Americans moved to New Jersey seeking work during the Great Migration of the early decades of the twentieth century, finding jobs in the state’s industrial centers. Between 1910 and 1940 the black population of New Jersey grew from thirty three thousand to sixty five thousand. The arrival of the Great Depression in the 1930's was a devastating economic blow for the black community where black unemployment was nearly twice that of whites.

When black soldiers returned to New Jersey after fighting fascism abroad there was an increased unwillingness to resume their second class position within society, and this, along with increased agitation from progressives within New Jersey led to the unanimous passing of the Law Against Discrimination by the Republican led legislature,which was enacted by Governor Edge (also a Republican) on April 16th, 1945.

Laws Regarding Discrimination

Negro Newspaper Office in Newark from the collection of the New Jersey State Archives

Publications Regarding Discrimination

Secretarial pool from the collection of the New York Public Library


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Photo Credits

New Jersey State ArchivesNew Jersey Writers' Project Photograph Collection, ca. 1935 - 1942   | Hogden School Girls Baseball ; United We Win  |  New York Public Library Digital Collections: Secretarial Pool ; Jersey City Quartermaster Repair Sub-Depot   |   New Jersey Digital Highway:  Pluckemin Burnt Mill Schoolhouse 1919   |  Library of Congress:  Atlantic Liner ; Hoboken Little League  |  New Jersey State Library: Map of Somerville, 1857 ; Letter to Governor Driscoll, 1947  |  


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