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Giles R. Wright, Jr.

Giles R. Wright, Jr.

Renowned Scholar of African American history

presented on May 24, 2009

by Gail Astle

First I would like to welcome you all to the historic Timbuctoo Cemetery.

We thank all Veterans for serving and fighting for our country. We thank you for your courage and sacrifice for the preservation of our freedom.

Today we are proud to honor the veteran soldiers buried here. These were African Americans who bravely fought in our Civil War and who helped establish the free society we enjoy today.

We also honor Giles Wright II of Willingboro, New Jersey, who sadly died on February of this year in Mount Holly after an eight month illness.

We remember Giles as one of America's most admired and productive historians. He headed the Afro-American History Program at the New Jersey Historical Commission for nearly 30 years. It was the first post established in the United States and Giles brought to this assignment, great distinction and scholarship in the documentation of black history. He used his expertise to illuminate the history of African Americans in New Jersey, particularly with the narratives of the Underground Railroad. He was passionate in preserving the Timbuctoo Underground Railroad heritage and took great interest in this small Timbuctoo Cemetery that is the resting place of Civil War African American heroes.

As a civic leader, with years of devotion to the public's interest, he was instrumental in promoting public awareness and an appreciation for New Jersey's black history through numerous writings, lectures, and presentations. He is noted for several published works such as his book, The History of African Americans in New Jersey, his guide to the Underground Railroad in New Jersey, Steal Away, Steal Away, and for his assistance in the preparation of a New Jersey high school African-American Curriculum Guide.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University, a master's degree in African Studies from Howard University, and pursued doctoral studies in comparative labor history at Rutgers University where he also taught labor studies and Afro-American History.

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