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Professor Colman to Lead Project Digitizing African American and Immigrant Community History of Englewood

July 14, 2023

The African American and Colombian history of Englewood, N.J. is one step closer to becoming more accessible and memorialized, thanks to a grant awarded to Dr. David Colman, associate professor of African American History at Ramapo College of New Jersey. The New Jersey Council for the Humanities awarded Colman $15,000 for the project, which is one of only three awards in Bergen County and 22 in the state to receive funding. 

The project “Englewood Makes History” is a community-based initiative to collect and digitize archival materials related to the vibrant history of the City of Englewood. The project will pay particular attention to collecting documents and items related to the history of race, ethnicity, and class in the City and to Englewood’s historic 4th ward, an African American neighborhood once known as “Little Texas” and the 3rd ward’s diverse immigrant communities, in particular its historic Colombian neighborhood. 

Students from Janis E. Dismus Middle School in Englewood and Ramapo College will enjoy hands-on learning with Colman on the archival project. “The partnership will help students better understand the history of New Jersey, develop a deep understanding of the history and present-day circumstances of their own communities, and a clear understanding of the value of History as a discipline,” said Colman. Additional collaborators include Englewood City community groups, churches, synagogues, mosques, Englewood City officials, and non-profit organizations such as the Bergen Family Center.

One digital project entails digitally mapping and recreating buildings and landmarks that no longer exist in the 4th ward as a result of gentrification. Long term, the project will become a permanent feature of Englewood civic life and allow students and residents to work together to document the City’s history and use the lessons of that history to make more informed decisions about Englewood’s present and future. 

Read more about Dr. Colman and the project in The Record.