Stories from back issues of Connecticut Explored and episodes from our companion podcast Grating the Nutmeg
Audacious Alliances: Mary Townsend Seymour
Seymour was a founder of the Hartford chapter of the NAACP, and an activist for African American rights in early 20th century Hartford.
World War II – Connecticut’s Own Rosie the Riveter
Primary source: an iconic image of women welders in New Britain by famous photographer Gordon Parks.
World War I – Parallel Lives: Segregation in World War I
Civil War – Fighting for Freedom: Joseph O. Cross
This primary source letter from soldier Joseph Cross to his wife reveals the experience of an African American soldier from Connecticut fighting in the Civil War.
Actress Gwen Reed: From Fields to Footlights
A Life’s Work: Excerpts from Life of James Mars, A Slave Born and Sold in Connecticut, Written by Himself
Monument to the Black Governors
The story of Connecticut’s colonial-era black leaders.
The Hartford Chapter of the Black Panthers: An interview with Butch Lewis
See also, The New Haven Black Panther Trials, Winter 2019-2020
re: Collections–Photographer Augustus Washington
From Talcott to Main Street: Hartford’s First African-American Church
The church has historically been a pillar of the African American community.
Farmington’s Stops on the Underground Railroad
When an enslaved man named Fortune died in Waterbury, his owner, a doctor, preserved Fortune’s skeleton as a medical specimen. Fortune’s skeleton was displayed at the Mattatuck Museum until a project to understand and honor Fortune’s dignity resulted in more respectful treatment of his remains.
Anna Louise James was the first African American pharmacist in Connecticut. She ran her own pharmacy in Old Saybrook from 1917 to 1967.
Searching for My James and Lane Families
Journalist Liz Petry explores her family tree, with roots in slavery and branches that include a best-selling novelist and Connecticut’s first African American female pharmacist.
PODCAST: Novelist Ann Petry and Exploring the Family Tree
Liz Petry’s lecture at the Mark Twain House explores her family tree and her family’s connection to the writer Mark Twain.
“Cast down on every side”: The Ill-Fated Campaign to Found an “African College” in New Haven
Abolitionists and black leaders proposed the first black college in the United States in New Haven in 1831.
My Dad, Jackie McLean
The story of jazz legend Jackie McLean told by his daughter.
Marian Anderson Studio
The famed opera singer lived in Danbury. Her studio is on the Connecticut Freedom Trail.
A Family of Reformers: The Middletown Bemans
An African-American family fights for equal opportunities in ante-bellum Middletown.
The Fastest Men on Two Wheels
My Summers at Camp Courant. By Chief Charles A. Teale, Sr.
Site Lines: Black Abolitionists Speak
Black people had resisted slavery and fought for its abolition even before the formation of the Union in 1776. In Connecticut in 1779, 1780, and 1788 blacks petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly to abolish slavery. Here we feature the words of some of Connecticut’s leading black abolitionists, spoken and written, as they strove to be front and center in all aspects of the struggle for their human rights.
The 29th Regiment Colored Volunteers
The story of Connecticut’s black Civil War regiment.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers Tour the North
Women Who Changed the World
Including a short bio of Novelist Ann Petry
Laboring in the Shade
Heading north for a summer job in the tobacco fields.
“What Would Dr. King Want You to Do?”
Hartford High School students spring the riots in Hartford after Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.
“I Wanted to Fly”
Tuskegee Airman Connie Nappier
Ebenezer Bassett’s Historic Journey
Our first black diplomat serves the first black republic.
Promise of Freedom: Reflections on the Emancipation Proclamation
Connecticut’s Response to the Emancipation Proclamation
Rev. James Pennington: A Voice for Freedom
Nancy Toney’s Lifetime in Slavery
Nancy Toney of Windsor was possible the last enslaved person in Connecticut.
Life & Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa
PODCAST: Educated for Freedom
State historian Walt Woodward interviews UConn English professor Anna Mae Duane about her amazing book about James McCune Smith and Henry Garnet, two African American boys who met as young students at the New York African Free School on Mulberry Street. Their intertwined lives of antebellum antislavery activism helped define the possibilities for blacks in American Society.
Unburying Hartford’s Native and African Family Histories
Not only Puritans were buried in Hartford’s first cemetery.
PODCAST: Uncovering African and Native American Lives in 17th & 18th Century Hartford
PODCAST: Department Stores, Hartford’s G. Fox & Co., and the Black Freedom Movement
UMass’s Dr. Traci Parker, with some editorial commentary from Connecticut Historical Society’s Natalie Belanger, talks about what department stores like G. Fox meant to consumers and retail workers alike, and how they become sites of struggle in the civil rights movement.
PODCAST: Norwalk’s Village Creek Ahead of its Time
After World War II, one Connecticut community made a conscious effort to reject racial segregation. The founders of Village Creek in Norwalk created a cooperative neighborhood which promised not to discriminate based on “race, color, creed or politics.”
The Midway Golf Club
The club for African American golfers and breaking the color line at Keney Park golf course in Hartford.
PODCAST: Breaking Golf’s Color Line in Hartford
Hartford native Gerry Peterson has played golf with President Barack Obama and was inducted into the Black Golf Hall of Fame in 2015. He started as a kid caddie during the Depression and played as a young executive at Aetna Life and Casualty. But what did it take for Peterson to become a member of the whites-only Keney Park Golf Club in 1963?
No Day at the Beach
Advocating for eliminating racial barriers at Connecticut’s beaches.
“The Wade in of 1964”
State historian Walt Woodward describes Rev. William Philpot’s campaign to use his beach rights at his cottage on Andover Lake in the 1960s.
Grave Deeds and Abandoned Cemeteries
Preserving a “Colored Cemetery” in Greenwich.
PODCAST: Hopes and Expectations: Creating a Black Middle Class in Hartford
Historian Barbara Beeching describes the creation of a black middle class in Hartford – not in the 20th century, but back in the 1800s.
PODCAST: Greater Hartford’s West Indian Diaspora
In 2010, Jamaicans became the largest foreign-born population in Connecticut and have the highest percentage of property ownership in Hartford County of any foreign-born group. UConn associate professor Fiona Vernal tells how so many West Indians come to call Connecticut home.
PODCAST: Art, Agency, Legacy: 30 Years of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture
The Amistad Center for Art & Culture in Hartford documents the history and art of people of African descent in America.
There’s more—search more recent issues while we work on adding links to this list!
Four hundred years of the African American experience in Connecticut. Published by CT Explored and Wesleyan University Press, 2014.
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