People Behind 7 Steps to Freedom
7 Steps to Freedom is an interpretive program using cellphones, mobile technology, and the internet to explore and experience African-American history and the Underground Railroad in Salem County, New Jersey. It is a production of the Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission in partnership with the Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting.
Artist Wendel A. White photographed the historical sites and objects related to the 7 Steps to Freedom stories. White is known for taking photographs that evoke African American history.
Wendel A. White was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He was awarded a BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and an MFA in photography from the University of Texas at Austin. White taught photography at the School of Visual Arts, NY; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, NY; the International Center for Photography, NY; Rochester Institute of Technology; and is currently Distinguished Professor of Art at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
He has received various awards and fellowships including a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Photography, two artist fellowships from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts, a photography grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and a New Works Photography Fellowship from En Foco Inc. His work is represented in museum and corporate collections including: the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; Haverford College, PA; Johnson and Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ; Chase Manhattan Bank; the Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art at University of Delaware; Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, WI; and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY. In January 2003 the Noyes Museum of Art mounted a retrospective exhibition of the Small Towns, Black Lives project, including 13 years of images and an exhibition catalogue of the same title. The exhibition traveled to various venues through 2007.
Wendel has served on the board of directors for the Society for Photographic Education and was elected board chair from 1996 to 1999. He has served on the Kodak Educational Advisory Council and NJ Save Outdoor Sculpture. He is currently a board member of the New Jersey Black Culture and Heritage Foundation and in November of 2010, began a term as board chairman of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
His interest in electronic media led to the creation of a web-based presentation of the Small Towns, Black Lives project that went on-line in 1995 as a web site called The Cemetery (the images are now included in Small Towns, Black Lives at blacktowns.org). His current projects include: Schools for the Colored, Manifest, and 7 Steps to Freedom (a public art commission).
The video to the right presents the photographer on location in Salem County. Also interviewed for the story is historian James Turk of the Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission. The story was produced by Susan Wallner.
Dr. Clement A. Price is a professor of history at Rutgers University and the founder and director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience. He is the author of many books and articles, including Freedom Not Far Distant: A Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey and Many Voices, Many Opportunities: Cultural Pluralism and American Arts Policy.
Dr. Spencer Crew is past president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and currently the Robinson professor of American, African American, and Public History at George Mason University in Virginia. He is also author of numerous articles and books, including Black Life in Secondary Cities: A Comparative Analysis of the Black Communities of Camden and Elizabeth, NJ and Unchained Memories: Readings From The Slave Narratives.
In these videos, eminent historians Dr. Clement A. Price and Dr. Spencer Crew discuss the history and significance of the Underground Railroad in America and South Jersey, specifically Salem County.
Alexandra Mays Ford received training at Camden County College and Montclair State University in Voice and Diction, Movement and Acting. She has appeared in a number of theater productions at both institutions as well as the Spotlighters, Inc., Woodbury Sketch Club, Pig Iron Company and Collaborative Act. Most recently she portrayed “Oney Judge,” a slave in George Washington’s household, for Historic Philadelphia’s award-winning storytelling program, Once Upon a Nation. Judge’s story was about how her experiences in Philadelphia transformed her into a forward-thinking, freedom-wanting woman.
Lamont Dixon is a writer, poet, storyteller, and performance and teaching artist. As a teaching artist, Lamont has developed innovative Language Arts education programs: as a performer he collaborates frequently with dancers, visual artists, rappers, other storytellers and vocalists. He has experience as a first person interpreter, portraying Malcolm X in Fire & Fury: X in Oratory and Langston Hughes in A Walk Down Lennox Avenue. A New Jersey resident, Lamont has performed widely throughout the tri-state region. He is an instructor at the Perkins Center for the Arts, Playwrights Theater of New jersey, Young Audiences of New jersey, Philadelphia Arts and Education Partnership, and Arts Horizons.
Note: These credits were accurate when this project was created in 2011. Contacts may no longer be valid.
Academic Advisory Board
- Clement A. Price, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
- Wendel A. White, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
- Sandra Mackenzie Lloyd, Historic Philadelphia, Inc.
- Sheri Jackson, National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program
- Timothy Hack, Salem Community College
- Janet Sheridan, independent scholar
Community Advisory Board
- J. Harlan Buzby
- Philip Correll
- Reverend Edward Dorn
- Elaine Edwards
- David T. Lindenmuth
- Donald L. Pierce
- Ivy Quinton
- Utausha Rivera
Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders
- Julioe A. Acton, Director
- Dale A. Cross, Deputy Director
- Bruce L. Bobbitt
- Benjamin H. Laury
- Beth E. Timberman
- Bob Vanderslice
- Lee Ware
Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission, Department of Cultural Affairs and Tourism
- Tom Mason, Chair
- Tatiana Mulhorn, Vice Chair
- Annette Devitt, Secretary
- Harry P. Salmon, Jr., Treasurer
- Heather Bryceland
- Christina Cottman Pierangeli
- Donald Pierce
- B. Harold Smick, Jr.
- Nancy Thomas
- Lee Ware, Freeholder Liaison
The 7 Steps to Freedom project was made possible by grants from:
The National Endowment for the Arts
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities – www.njch.org
Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations in this media project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
The New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of the NJ Department of State – www.nj.gov/state/historical
The New Jersey State Council of the Arts, a Division of the NJ Department of State and a partner agency with the National Endowment for the Arts – www.state.nj.us/state/njsca
United Way of Salem County, Inc.