New Jersey Historian and Professor to Speak About
Abolitionist Richard Waln at MCCC Apr. 28


West Windsor, N.J. -- Historian and professor Susan Kozel will present a lecture entitled "Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey: The Life and Work of Quaker Abolitionist Richard Waln" on Wednesday, April 28, noon to 1 p.m., at Mercer County Community College. This lecture is free and open to the public and takes place in the Communications Building, Room 110, on Mercer's West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.

The lecture is based on Kozel's new research, funded through a 2009 Mini-Grant by the New Jersey Historical Commission.

According to Kozel, Waln became an activist later in life. Born in 1737, this "master merchant" operated a farm plantation in Upper Freehold, N.J., making a considerable fortune selling sundries, farm goods and Caribbean-made products to local slave owners. |

However, in his fifties, Waln emerged as a vocal and effective advocate for the abolition of slavery, spending much of his time developing legal strategies to free blacks who were being denied their freedom or being sold back into slavery. Through his provocative and emotional arguments, "Waln built support for his local Monmouth County investigations that resulted in New Jersey Supreme Court cases that freed African Americans wrongly held as slaves," Kozel says.

Historian Susan Kozel
Kozel at the historic Walnford gristmill

Kozel believes Waln's story is significant. "He reminds us that one person can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others," she said. "His work and leadership in the Early Republic illustrates the tenacity with which an ordinary person can fight for justice and the freedom of others. His contributions played an important part in American and New Jersey abolitionist history and later struggles over freedom and slavery."

Among the sources Kozel used in her research were the Library of Congress, the New Jersey State Archives, Haverford College's Quaker Special Collections, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Monmouth County Parks archives.

Kozel is an adjunct professor of history at Kean University, Ocean County College, Brookdale Community College and, most recently, Mercer County Community College. She earned her master's degree in History from New York University and a master's in Labor Relations from Rutgers University, where she also earned her B.A.

To learn about upcoming events at Mercer County Community College, click here.

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