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The long and continuing struggle to obtain and protect the right to vote for African-Americans has its New Jersey moments. These include the efforts of John S. Rock. Born in Elsinborough Township, Salem County, New Jersey in 1825, Rock had relocated to Boston in 1853. On Feb. 1, 1865, Rock was the first Black lawyer to be admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. See generally Jackson, “John S. Rock: From South Jersey Roots to SCOTUS First,” 215 N.J.L.J. 479 (Feb. 24, 2014).

Rock was an individual of amazing capability and accomplishments. In his relatively short life, before dying in 1866, Rock had become well-educated, a school teacher, a school administrator, a dentist, a physician, and a lawyer. Throughout much of his life, Rock was active in the struggles for abolition of slavery and the fair and equal treatment of his race. This can be seen in his involvement with and appointment as secretary and lecturer at the Colored Convention, which met in Salem on April 26, 1849. At that time, Rock was beginning his practice of dental surgery.

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