New Jersey public schools will now be sending educators to transatlantic sites associated with the slave trade to better incorporate Black history into their regular lesson plans instead of just in February, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

The initiative will be a new program under Amistad Law — a mandate signed in 2002 by then-Governor Jim McGreevey that requires teachers to teach Black history. The mandate, unfortunately, has not been widely implemented despite it being signed 17 years ago. 

Governor Phil Murphy announced the program at a news conference in Atlantic City with the New Jersey Education Association. The annual gathering included a speech by activist Cornel West. 

The program will cost about $75,000 a year and will be funded by the teachers’ association. 

“We all know that the work of racial justice is hard, but it’s far too important to let that stop us,” NJEA president Marie Blistan said. 

This program is all part of the state’s plan to ensure teachers are incorporating Black history into their class regularly and not just during Black History Month, according to State Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet, the state’s first Black education chief. 

“This work is personal for me,” Repollet said.

Districts that fail to comply can lose points during evaluations starting next school year, he said. 

Twenty educators will be chosen to visit the sites next summer. They will visit U.S. slave sites such as Jamestown, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; and New Orleans. The program will later include a trip to Ghana where Africans walked through the “door of no return” onto slave ships, according to NBC 10

Jacqui Greadington, a retired East Orange music teacher and now activist, thought of the idea after a visit to Ghana that she says “changed my life forever.”

“There are people who have no clue about the value of the African American story,” she said.

The Amistad Journey program is modeled after one similar that sends educators to Holocaust sites in Europe after New Jersey passed a law in 1994 requiring the Holocaust to be taught.