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The dedication of Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden

A local demonstration

Attorney Michael Jefferson delivers the Statement of Purpose at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church



Tanaiza Glass reads to preschoolers during the annual Martin Luther King conference at Wexler-Grant Community School in New Haven

Portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. at the First Congregational Church of West Haven during the West Haven Black Coalition’s 29th annual tribute to King

The Rev. Kennedy Hampton, left, and his brother, the Rev. Gerald Kennedy, right, carrying a picture of their late father, the Rev. George W. Hampton, Sr., lead the 45th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Love March

The SAILS (Students Achieving Individual Levels of Success) summer program on the Amistad

The Freedom Schooner Amistad at port in New Haven

New Haven Register I The Middletown Press I The Register Citizen I $2.95







New Haven played host to Civil Rights luminaries By Jim Shelton

Sometimes history comes to visit. This is particularly true in Greater New Haven, where world leaders, pivotal figures and difference makers of all stripes have come calling for hundreds of years. Likewise, there are the big events that originate here, from the British invasion of New Haven in 1779 to the Bobby Seale trial in 1970. The history of the civil rights movement is no different. Indeed, many of the most iconic personalities in the long struggle for equality have passed through New Haven. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here, as did Malcolm X; Frederick Douglass bolstered troops here; Sojourner Truth journeyed here after changing her name; Thurgood Marshall stopped here to give his definition of black power. As we embark on Black History Month for 2007, it’s worth noting that these luminaries and many others didn’t just make history in places such as Birmingham, Alabama, and Washington, D.C. They also made some noise in the Elm City. Of course, some of them are well known locally, from the Amistad revolt in 1839 to the fact that New Haven was the hometown of Judge Constance Baker Motley and the birthplace of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. But there are other local connections to civil rights history. What follows is just a partial list of some of those moments.


Malcolm X in 1963

Frederick Douglass

an address Douglass gave to African-American soldiers of the 29th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, in Fair Haven Jan. 29, 1864. “You are pioneers of the liberty of your race,” Douglass told them. “With the United States cap on your head, the United States eagle on your belt, the United States musket on your shoulder, not all the powers of darkness can prevent you from becoming American citizens. And not for yourselves alone are you marshaled — you are pioneers — on you depends the destiny of 4 million of the colored race in this country. If you rise and flourish, FREDERICK DOUGLASS we shall rise and flourish. If you (1818-1895) win freedom and citizenship, we SMITHSONIAN shall share your freedom and citSojourner Truth, circa 1870 Douglass, a former slave who izenship.” became a towering historical figleading abolitionist voices of ure and champion of equal rights SOJOURNER TRUTH her era. She changed her name for African-Americans, made at (ca 1797-1883) to Sojourner Truth in 1843 and least two notable local appearances. One was at New Haven’s Born into slavery in Hurley, preached for a time in Long IsVarick A.M.E. Zion Church on N.Y., under the name Isabella, land, Connecticut and MassaDixwell Avenue. The other was Truth would become one of the chusetts. In 1850, she dictated

her life story, “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth.” It included a reference to time spent in the Elm City: “Landing at Bridgeport, she again resumed her travels toward the northeast, lecturing some, and working some, to get wherewith to pay tribute to Caesar, as she called it; and in this manner she presently came to the city of New Haven, where she found many meetings, which she attended -- at some of which, she was allowed to express her views freely, and without reservation. She also called meetings expressly to give herself an opportunity to be heard; and found in the city many true friends of Jesus, as she judged, with whom she held communion of spirit, having no preference for one sect more than another, but being well satisfied with all who gave her evidence of having known or loved the saviour.”

THE REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. (1929-1968) Considered by many to be the preeminent civil rights leader of the 20th century, as well as one of the most influential Americans of all time, King preached a nonviolent brand of protest that sparked a wave of legislative change. His assassination marked a time of incredible turmoil for the country, yet today King’s birthday is celebrated as a national holiday. He came to Greater New Haven several times. In 1961, King spoke

to more than 1,000 people gathered at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, imploring people of all races to “learn to live together as brothers or they will perish together as fools.” The following year, King gave a speech at Yale’s Battell Chapel in which he said, “The hour is late; the clock of destiny is running out.” In talking about the civil rights movement, he said, “the movement is spiritual in the sense that its participants have faith in the future. With this faith in the future, we will be able to bring light into the dark chambers of pessimism.” Yale gave King an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1964, during commencement exercises on the university’s Old Campus. King was the only honoree to get a standing ovation.

THURGOOD MARSHALL (1908-1993) As a lawyer and jurist, Marshall cast a long shadow in the legal history of this nation. He was chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for 23 years, arguing the NAACP’s case against school segregation in 1954’s landmark Brown v. the Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court. Years later, Marhsall joined the Supreme Court as an associate justice, serving in that capacity until his death. He was invited to speak in New Haven on several occasions, including a 1966 LEADERS » PAGE 3


Leaders FROM PAGE 2

speech at the Yale Political Union. Marshall was U.S. solicitor general in the Lyndon Johnson administration. “Civil rights is now the order of the day as far as the government is concerned,” he said. However, Marshall took issue with certain militant aspects of the civil rights movement at that time. “Black power is an unfortunate use of words. It’s what the racists have been waiting for,” he said. “Black power should mean nothing more than lawful attempts by Negroes to gain their rights.”

MALCOLM X (1925-1965) The fiery orator born with the name Malcolm Little was a driving force for black nationalism and economic independence in the early 1960s. His rise to prominence came through his association with the Nation of Islam. However, he later broke with the organization and was in the midst of an ideological transformation at the time of his assassination. Malcolm gave a handful of speeches in New Haven, including a pair of appearances in 1963: one at Winchester School for the local NAACP’s race relations forum, and one at the Bassett Junior High School auditorium. During the latter talk, Malcolm criticized King’s integration approach to civil rights. “You can try to integrate for 1,000 years, and you’re still going to have bumps from the top of your head to the soles of your feet,” Malcolm said. “The only time the white man stops sitting on his hands is when you stop sitting on your non-violence.” Likewise, Malcolm was critical of the 1963 March on Washington, noting, “All they did was walk from the feet of one dead president (the Washington Monu-


ment) to the feet of another dead president (the Lincoln Memorial) and never did get to see the living president.”

W.E.B. DuBOIS (1868-1963) DuBois, author of “The Souls of Black Folk,” a seminal collection of essays on the African-American experience, was a fierce advocate of using political power to advance the cause of civil rights. His grandfather, Alexander, moved to New Haven in the early 1830s with the author’s father, Alfred, who was born in 1825. DuBois’ grandfather opened a grocery store on Washington Street and was an official at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. DuBois wrote about his grandfather’s New Haven connection in his autobiography: “Then even more than now a colored man had colored friends or none at all, lived in a colored world or lived alone. A few fine, strong black men gained the heart of this silent, bitter man in New York and New Haven. If he had scant sympathy with their social clannishness, he was with them fighting discrimination.”

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON (1856-1915) More famous during his lifetime than DuBois, Washington took a much different approach to race relations than DuBois. Washington favored advancement through education and economics, rather than protest or politics. He is said to have given his final public address at Varick A.M.E. Zion Church in New Haven Oct. 25, 1915. He spoke from the pulpit on the topic, “How the North Can Help the South.”


visited New Haven several times, including less than a year after her husband’s death. On Feb. 25, 1969, she spoke at Yale’s Woolsey Hall on “The Role of the Academic Community in Today’s Turbulent World.” “There is turbulence on the campuses because there is turbulence in the world,” she began. She called it a “turning point in history” and asserted that the average black student at a white college is the “product of a paternalistic and racist society in which he has already lost faith.” She ended her remarks by saying, “Hope marches ahead of us. We have overcome. Deep in our hearts, we do know that we have overcome.”

THE REV. JESSE JACKSON (1941) A former presidential candidate who has traveled extensively throughout the United States and internationally on behalf of individuals and causes, Jackson has been a civil rights leader for more than 40 years. He’s been a frequent visitor to New Haven, leading protests, giving speeches and supporting political candidates. In March 1988, during one of his campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, Jackson addressed an evening rally on the New Haven Green. “Most people who are poor are not black or brown,” he said. “Most poor people are not on welfare. They work every day. “They’re janitors and maids at Yale,” he continued. “They catch the early bus. They work in hospitals, washing the backs of the sick. When they get through working, when they get sick, they can’t even afford to lie in the empty beds they make every day because they have no insurance.”

Editor’s note: This story The widow of the Rev. was first published on Martin Luther King Jr. Feb. 4, 2007.

| Celebrating Black History Month




Notable names and historic firsts African Americans have held many important roles throughout history. Some notable achievements include: • Carter Goodwin Woodson was the founder of Negro History Week. Negro History Week was inspired by the establishment of National Achievement Week during a 1920 Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Grand Conclave gathering in Nashville, TN. The week promoted the study of Negro life and history. The inaugural year was 1926: 61 years after Congress ratified the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery; 54 years after Elijah “The Real” McCoy received a patent for an automatic lubricator; and 50 years after John Knowles Paine became the first black composer of a symphonic work, Opus 23 in C minor. To recognize those and many other achievements made by blacks but omitted from history by whites, Carter Goodwin Woodson, an African-American historian and author, established Negro History Week in February 1926. Negro History Week was expanded and renamed in 1976. • Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first black man in America to earn a Ph.D. Bouchet, a physicist and educator, earned his doctorate from Yale in 1876. • Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, became the highest-ranking soldier of the 10th Cavalry Regiment. Troops of the allblack Army unit were known as Buffalo Soldiers, a nickname given by American Indian tribes they fought. • Benjamin O. Davis Sr., a member of the Buffalo Soldiers, was the first black general in the American military. • John Dow Jr. was the first black superintendent of New Haven schools. • Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett, appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as minister resident and consul general to Haiti in 1869, making Bassett the first black diplo-

mat in U.S. history. • Macon B. Allen, who in 1847 became the first black judge when he was appointed in Massachusetts. • Edward Archer Randolph, who in 1880 was the first black admitted to practice law in Connecticut. • George Crawford, the first black corporation counsel in New Haven. • New Haven’s Constance Baker Motley, famous civil rights lawyer and the first black woman appointed to the federal judiciary. • Thurgood Marshall who was the first black appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alvin Thompson and Vanessa Bryant, who were the first black man and black woman appointed to the federal bench in Connecticut. • Levi Jackson was the first black captain of any Yale varsity team, the first black man to be tapped for one of Yale’s elite secret societies, and the first black executive at Ford, where he was in charge of urban affairs. • New Haven’s first black police officer, Charles A. Hopper, died of duty-related injury and illness. His untimely death at the age of 31 was reported in the Register of Nov. 4, 1892. • Mary Ann Epps, assistant adjutant general and commander of the Connecticut Air National Guard, was promoted to her current position April 2001. She was the first African American, male or female, to achieve this level of command in the state’s history. • The nation’s first black Boy Scout troop was based at the Dixwell Congregational Church, now the Dixwell Avenue United Church of Christ. • Curtissa Cofield, Connecticut’s first black female judge. • Ella Scantlebury was the first black person in the city to hold major office. She was appointed treasurer in 1960, and was later elected to that post. • Dr. Richard S. Fleming was the first black dentist in

New England. • In 1857, Courtland Van Rensselaer Creed — born in New Haven and buried in the family plot at Grove Street Cemetery — became the first person of color to receive a medical degree at the Yale University School of Medicine. His ancestry can be traced to an African slave, Prince Duplex, born in 1754 in Connecticut, who relocated to New Haven. • Lucy and Lois Tritton, a mother and daughter in New Haven, are assured a high place in black history because these two women were the last slaves sold on the New Haven Green, on March 8, 1825, if not in Connecticut. Freed in 1828, the two were in the small group that helped found St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Whalley Avenue in 1844. • The Rev. James W.C. Pennington, born a slave in Maryland in 1809, is probably the most distinguished runaway slave in Connecticut and New Haven history. He was the first black pastor of Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ, audited classes at Yale Divinity School, was honored with a doctor of divinity degree in Germany. • William Grimes, who arrived just after 1800, was among the first runaway slaves from the South to reach Connecticut and New Haven. Grimes began “shaving, barbering, waiting on the scholars in their rooms” at Yale College. At Litchfield Law School, starting in 1808, he prospered as a general servant and barber to students. In 1812 or 1813, Grimes returned to New Haven, married a “colored” girl, “a lady of education,” Clarissa Caesar, who taught him to read and write. The year before, New Haven had opened its first charity school for children of color. This list was compiled by New Haven Register Librarian Angel Diggs, from news records.








state’s office under Julia Tashjian; worked on Bill Curry’s gubernatorial campaign and Ned Lamont’s U.S. Senate Democratic primary run against U.S. Sen. JoNEW HAVEN » There was music, danc- seph Lieberman. McClee was born in 1846 and died in ing and solemn reflections in City Hall Wednesday in honor of Charlotte McClee, 1957 at 111, when Antley was 9. Among who was freed from slavery, and whose family photos is one of five generations fifth generation relative was on hand to where McClee held Antley as an infant. accept the state’s apology for participat“She was the first mid-wive in a fledging in slavery. ling town in North Carolina The General Assembly which she walked to after bein 2009 issued the apoling freed in Charlestown, S.C.,” Antley said. “Slavery is a horriogy for the men, women ble atrocity for anyone, but she and children enslaved in lived through it.” Connecticut in the 17th, She said in her eulogy, McClee 18th and 19th centuries and for the businesses was remembered as the woman that profited from slavery. who delivered all babies, black Connecticut was home and white, in the town that beto some 5,100 slaves in came Gastonia, N.C. In another the mid-1770s and the story, passed down through generations, McClee was said state legislature rejected emancipation initiatives Stella Antley and then- to have fed her master as he hid from participating in the Civil in 1777, 1779 and again state Sen. Toni Harp in War. in 1780 before it played front of the Amistad a significant role in abo- Memorial in New Haven. Antley wants Gastonia to relition efforts and outlawed member McClee for her contribuslavery in 1848. tions and move toward reparations for all State Sen. Toni Harp and former state her suffering. “I want to make sure her Rep. Kenneth Green, D-Hartford, gave a life is not forgotten,” she said. She said in this country right now it is copy of the apology to Stella Antley, the great, great granddaughter of McClee, the best of times and worst of times with tieing the recognition to the 50th anni- a black president, on one hand, but abversary of the March on Washington this ject poverty in some sectors,as well as week. high unemployment and homelessness. The ceremony was scheduled to take She said black institutions are thriving in place in front of the Amistad Memorial the South, but not in North. outside City Hall, but was moved indoors “We are always part of someone else’s to avoid construction equipment near the parade,” Antley said. “I would like to see a 1 million boy march, because our youth memorial. Antley said lawmakers did not realize are being lost,” she said referring to black at the time of the apology that there was on black crime. She recommended bringa living relative of a slave in Connecticut. ing back corporal punishment. “ ... we all Harp spoke on behalf of the resolution grew up getting spanked. I don’t think it in 2009 with state Sen. John McKinney, is going to hurt anyone,” she said. R-Fairfield, while Green helped author it. Green talked about his participation in Thirteen lawmakers co-sponsored it. the resolution. “If we really want to be forgiven for It was billed as a General Assembly event and not a campaign stop for Harp, our sins, we first have to start off with one of four Democrats running for mayor. an apology. We have to recognize that we The other candidates for mayor are: Al- may have wronged somebody. Connectderman Justin Elicker, Hillhouse High icut and the Northern states for a long School Principal Kermit Carolina and for- time throughout our history would like mer city Economic Development Admin- to believe that we did not indulge in the istrator Henry Fernandez. enslavement of people,” Green said. “I have been in politics for most of my life, because the slave could not vote,” This story was originally published on August 29, 2013. (Editor’s note: Toni Antley said. She worked in the secretary of the Harp took office as mayor in Jan. 2014)

they would live. The popular version of the During an interview last week Amistad story, with its central from his office in Rochester, Lawhero and the brave captive Afrirance said he first heard about cans taking over a ship and eventhose three boys and three girls in tually winning their freedom in 2007 when he was working under the U.S. Supreme Court, leaves out Randall a fellowship at the Gilder Lehrsix important but forgotten figBeach man Center for the Study of Slavures: the children. ery, Resistance and Abolition Now, finally, Benjamin N. Lawat Yale University. He was then rance has brought these youngsters into the light in his new book, “Amistad’s studying contemporary child trafficking in West Africa for a book that is still in Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, development. Slavery and Smuggling” (Yale University “Through conversations with different Press). But this is not a feel-good story with a people at the center, I learned about these happy ending. Lawrance, who has an en- children,” Lawrance said. “I started to wonder whether I could tell their stories.” dowed chair in international studies at In his book’s introduction, Lawrance the Rochester Institute of Technology, wrote, “For too long, child slave lives learned through his years of research that the Supreme Court ruling did not re- have been considered inaccessible to the ally “free” the children and that, even af- historian, their experiences silenced by ter they at last made it back to Sierra Le- the past and unrecoverable. ... African children have been portrayed as an insigone, they had difficult adulthoods. nificant component of the larger Atlantic Indeed, one of the findings of his book is that five of them probably were “forever trade and as expendable space fillers or trapped in permanent childhood” because an afterthought in slave ships.” Lawrance added: “Not only were chilthey remained outsiders without a chance dren a critical constituency of 19th-cento adapt to African culture. tury Atlantic slave-trading networks, The Amistad saga has long been a but a reappraisal of their participation source of pride and fascination for New Haven residents because of the role some also compels us to recognize that the inception of abolitionism in the Atlantic of their predecessors played in helping marked the beginning of an age of child the 53 Amistad Africans. enslavement.” In 1839, those 53, who had been He said his work following the lives of brought from Africa to Cuba on assorted ships to be sold into slavery, were put on these “six remarkable African children” board the schooner Amistad to be trans- is an attempt to correct some of these persistent misconceptions. ported to another part of Cuba. But Lawrance writes in a scholarly tone during that journey, a 25-year-old rice farmer named Sengbe Pieh (renamed Jo- and his work is full of statistics; this is seph Cinque by his captors) led a mutiny. not a book for general audiences. Although he was able to extract some perThe Africans tried to sail back to Afsonal details about those six kids from rica but ended up off the coast of Long their letters, court records and eyeIsland, where they were seized by a U.S. witness testimonies, this 271-page volnaval cutter and towed to New London. ume does not have plentiful information The Africans were charged with mutiny and murder. They were jailed in New Ha- about their personalities. Perhaps that’s because there wasn’t much left behind. ven to await trial. The six were: the girls Mar’gru, Kag’ne After trials in New Haven and Hartford, and Te’me; a boy named Ka’le; Antonio, the 53 were declared free by the U.S. Suwho was an enslaved cabin boy on the preme Court in a case of historic proporAmistad; and James Covey, who was not tions. But in his book, Lawrance wrote it’s a on the Amistad but was brought to New “myth” that the Supreme Court freed the Haven from Staten Island in September 1839 to be an interpreter for the other orphans along with the adults. He said youths. They ranged from ages 9 to 16 at their legal status was different from the adults’ and so they were forced to endure the time of the Amistad mutiny. servanthood and legal battles over where CHILDREN » PAGE 5

Event honors woman The sad, untold story of who was freed from slavery the children of the Amistad By Mary E. O’Leary [email protected] @nhrmoleary on Twitter



| Celebrating Black History Month




Toni Harp, city’s first female mayor, stresses positives, ‘dazzling’ prospects Toni Nathaniel Harp was sworn in as the city’s 50th mayor and first female to hold that office on Wednesday, and spoke on themes of social justice and chose to concentrate on the city’s attributes, rather than problems, characterizing its prospects for economic development as “dazzling.” It was standing-room only for a crowd that packed the auditorium and spilled over into a separate room at Career High School, a facility designed by her late husband, Wendell Harp. The racially mixed crowd was excited that New Haven has its second African-African mayor in a city that has NEW HAVEN >>


Toni Harp greets supporters after her election as mayor of New Haven.

Children FROM PAGE 4

All six were physically removed from their home villages, either via kidnapping or being pawned by their parents. According to Lawrance’s research, Te’me said she was a victim of an evening attack on her home when “a party of men in the night broke into the house.” It appears she was separated from her family almost immediately, a common practice. Ka’le reported he was “stolen when in the street,” Lawrance wrote, but there are no other details of his abduction. However, it’s clear he was taken to the coast of Sierra Leone for resale. Covey said he was taken by three men from his parents’ house at night. During a hearing at Hartford district court, he said, “I was stolen by a black man

who stole 10 of us.” Lawrance also found a report that Kag’ne said she was “put in pawn for a debt by her father which was not being paid, (so) she was sold into slavery.” Mar’gru said she too was pawned by her father. Among the most disturbing parts of Lawrance’s book is his documentation that 40 percent to 50 percent of the occupants aboard the slave ships that sailed from Africa to Cuba were children. Why was that? Lawrance quoted an eyewitness: Children were “smaller and pack more conveniently,” were less likely to resist what was being done to them, were less likely than adults to die during the long and arduous Atlantic passage and consumed less food and water than adults. Kids simply were more profitable for the slave traders. Lawrance quoted a witness saying that, as a result of being

given half rations during the voyages, kids arrived in Cuba “mere skeletons, in a complete state of exhaustion.” Lawrance noted the 2½-month trip aboard the Amistad that ended in Long Island also was a time of deprivation, hunger and fear. After their first trial in Connecticut, five of the children were housed at the Westville home of Col.Stanton Pendleton, who also oversaw the jail where the adults were kept bordering the New Haven Green. Lawrance wrote that the girls “were effectively detained as house servants” in Westville. A witness reported seeing Mrs. Pendleton severely whip Antonio. After the Supreme Court ruling in March 1841, a court hearing was held in New Haven in which abolitionists sought the release of Te’me, Kag’ne and Mar’gru. Although the abolitionists won custody of them,

a majority of minority residents. Harp, 66, shared the stage with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the rest of the statewide elected officers, both U.S. senators and U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3. It was a testament to the powerful Democratic Party here and the votes it has turned out for Malloy, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy in their tough fights for office, with Malloy expected to seek a second term in November. Harp was administered the oath by her old friend Lubbie Harper Jr., who began his career as a teacher and then a school administrator in New Haven, before becoming a lawyer and advancing to the Connecticut Supreme Court, from which

Lawrance found an account of the children being “pulled and dragged from the side of Mrs. Pendleton, shrieking and crying.” As they came out of the courthouse, Te’me bolted across the New Haven Green in a final bid for freedom. An abolitionist captured her and carried her back across the Green. “Think what it must have been like,” Lawrance told me. “Everybody’s pretending to speak for you but they (the kids) never got to give their opinion about where they should be living and what was in their best interests. I imagine it must have been terrifying. They didn’t know where they would be taken.” But he noted that the three girls and Ka’le were relocated with families in Farmington and appeared to do quite well there. Antonio went to Montreal and Covey to New York. In November 1841, the Farm-

he recently retired. The new mayor’s grown children — Jamil, Matthew and Djana Harp — held the Bible as she was sworn in. The loudest applause from the large audience was elicited each time a speaker spoke about the importance of women in leadership. “When women succeed, America succeeds,” DeLauro said to sustained cheers. Throughout the long primary campaign and then the run-up to the election, Harp emphasized her connections to Hartford and a smoother, more consistent relationship with the governor than was always the case with outgoing Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who beat Malloy in a 2006 primary battle for the gubernatorial nomination. HARP


By Mary O’Leary [email protected] @nhrmoleary on Twitter


ington kids and Covey left America with missionaries to return to Sierra Leone. But Lawrance cited reports that, upon their return, Cinque joined other African adults in trying to subject the girls to genital cutting. The girls resisted and went to live with the missionaries in a small village. Lawrance said records make it almost certain that Cinque became a slave trader when he returned home. So did Covey. Lawrance told me most people cling to “the heroic male story” of the Amistad because it’s appealing and coherent. “Otherwise,” he noted, “you have to acknowledge the child trafficking then and that it continues to this day. Millions of children are bought and sold every year all over the world.” Contact Randall Beach at [email protected] or 203680-9345.







Malloy played into that, promising to work with her “to change a parking lot to a thriving community,” refering to LiveWorkPlayLearn plans for housing and other construction that needs infrastructure help in connecting roads across Route 34 to make it happen. He also promised “to revitalize the train station,” a plan that would add retail and eventually housing to that portion of Union Avenue, and a more direct connection to downtown. While the tone of her address was overwhelmingly positive, Harp took the reins of government some 12 hours after a shooting that left a 20-year-old man in critical condition. The mayor said she and other officials are putting a lot of faith in community policing and Project Longevity to help stem the violence. New Haven ended 2013 with 20 homicides. Harp reiterated her support for Dean Esserman to stay on as police chief and said they both share an ideology “that puts crime prevention on equal footing with law enforcement.” She said it was important to intervene to help those who are beginning to despair “so they choose a more sustainable path and reach a destination on the right side of the law.” Harp said of those who make bad decisions, “there, but for the grace of a loving parent, inspiring teacher, caring member of the clergy, or someone else who got involved, could be virtually any one of us.” “No first-grade student, when asked what he or she wants to be when grown-up, answers ‘embezzler,’ ‘drug dealer’ or ‘murderer.’ I’m confident that the vast majority of those who commit crimes do so from desperation, not as a career destination. Each of these people has a story; no matter how heinous or deplorable a crime might be, it’s the behavior that’s reprehensible — even abhorrent — and rarely the perpetrator,” she told the audience. Harp said she intends to have the “feet on the street” needed to determine who is taking advantage of these diversionary pro-


New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp, right, listens to Lubbie Harper Jr. speak before swearing her in at inauguration ceremonies at Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven Wednesday. Harp’s children, from left, Djana Harp, Jamil Harp and Matthew Harp, joined her on stage. grams. She said none of these observations should be viewed as “soft on crime.” The mayor said community policing will not compromise safety. Harp said those who turn their backs on “constructive alternatives” to crime will have more consciously chosen “crimimnal behavior and will be treated accordingly.” Beyond the major themes of health care, education, crime reduction and jobs, there was something concrete for everyone from the new mayor. Harp said a priority is to rebuild the seawall, “so residents on the East Shore can rest assured their homes are safe and secure,” an area that voted for her opponent in the general election, Alderman Justin Elicker. Harp also committed to rebuilding the Q House in the Dixwell neighborhood, a fondly remembered, but shuttered, facility for youth programs that a new study found would cost $13.4 million to replace. The lack of youth programs was a major election theme for all the candidates. The mayor also pledged to find a way

to “breathe new life into the Latino Youth Development program.” As the former mayor of Stamford, Malloy had some advice for Harp, telling her that she should expect to be frequently stopped by her constituents as she goes about things as mundane as grocery shopping. “Mayors own the city and the city owns the mayor,” Malloy told her as she begins her two-year term. “I know that New Haven is prepared for Toni Harp and I know that Toni Harp is prepared for New Haven.” DeStefano was mayor for 20 years and, while they didn’t always get along, Harp made a special point of thanking him. “Any new administration at every level of government stands on the shoulders of the previous administrations and works to build on its accomplishments. I want to personally extend my thanks for your commitment, steadfast dedication and achievements over the past ten terms,” Harp said. DeStefano wasn’t at the ceremony. Harp reflected on the changing cycle of leadership in the city,

neighborhoods where it is hard to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Harp is on board with the increasing supplemental role of schools that provide meals and health clinics in addition to teaching. She is high on community schools that look beyond academics and said she wants foreign languages and STEM courses — science, technology, engineering and math — stressed in city schools. She pitched New Haven to businesses, stating the city is within 500 miles of some one-third of the U.S. economy and two-thirds of the Canadian economy. She said its location is complemented by its educated workforce and the entrepreneurs who are coming out of the local colleges. Harp said New Haven and Connecticut remain committed to small businesses and the state has top-ten rankings in venture capital closings. T he inaugural ceremony stressed family, with City-Town Clerk Michael Smart accompanied by his neices, one of whom, attorney Kristina Allen, swore him in. Mariah Smart from Music Haven sang the national anthem, while the locally grown group Salt and Pepper also sang. The Unity Boys Choir got a standing ovation; Lisa Fluker sang an original song. There were numerous Democrats from earlier administrations, as well as people who hadn’t been engaged in politics before this past election. Also, sitting near the front was Yale President Peter Salovey, his wife, Marta Elisa Moret, and Bruce Alexander, Yale’s vice president. “I appreciated that she started her speech with such impassioned comments about the need to build economically and create jobs because that is an area that we are committing to also at Yale. Virtually every theme that she had represents an area where we could have partnerships, or do, whether it is economic development, community policing, reducing crime, public health, food security and nutrition, school reform, all areas where we work together. I was very energized by her speech,” Salovey said, as he made his way to the receiving line for Harp.

both public and private, with the first new Yale University president in two decades, in addition to a new mayor and new superintendent of schools. Harp said the city’s “collective potential is positively inspiring.” Harp’s areas of concentration as a state senator for 21 years were health care, criminal justice and education. She praised the federal Affordable Care Act and pledged to make its promise of insurance a fact for needy New Haven residents. Harp said it was “an egregious moral failure for city residents to go without or be denied adequate health care while living figuratively across the street from one of the world’s foremost medical centers,” referring to Yale-New Haven Hospital. The new mayor, pledging to continue many initiatives already under way in New Haven, said hunger continues to impact “an intolerable number” of residents, saying, “Hunger must not be allowed a place at the table of plenty that is Connecticut.” She wants to deal with the so- This story was first published called “food deserts” in certain on January 1, 2014



| Celebrating Black History Month





History plays key role in establishing cultural identity of people’s traditions and In the spirit of human customs annually. expression and group Italians celebrate Coidentity, most ethnic lumbus Day, the Irish celgroups and cultures have ebrate St. Patrick’s Day, no problem reminding Mexican Americans celethe world of the pain and brate Cinco de Mayo. suffering they endured to Shahid AbdulBut for most Amerestablish their lives and Karim icans, it’s very uncominterests on this Earth. fortable to talk about the And we see how differblack experience, in particular ent cultures have come to Amerthe slave trade culture and how ica and claimed a part of their slavery affects the black commudestiny by location, territories, nity today. and holidays. It is troublesome to know that In almost every city in America, you’ll find areas of ethnicity, America’s past, including its or cultural centers that feed the founding fathers had a bloody needs and interest of those eth- hand in the lynching, castration, burning and stripping a whole nic communities. race of people from their heriAccording to cultural historian Anthony T. Browder, speak- tage and cultural identity. Some may say that happened ing in a lecture, “Many of these 400 plus years ago, that has communities have elementary no bearing on the condition of schools, high schools, colleges, black America today. and universities that were creI beg to differ. ated specifically to socialize stuImagine a whole race of peodents and instill within them ple unable to identify their custhe legacy of their ancestors.” toms, traditions, heritage or lin“Even the British, when they came to America, brought their eage and forced to identify with someone else’s. That is exactly culture with them, so much so, what happened and, I’m instates are named after places clined to say, still happens today. reminiscent of their homeland: Consider post traumatic slave New Jersey, New York, and New syndrome as part of the reason Hampshire,” he said. It’s not surprising part of the certain behaviors are pervasive within the black experience, esEast Coast is known as New England, a reflection of heritage pecially after being traumatized by the breaking process, into and ancestral history. an uncivilized state of depenCulture is definitely an exdency along with the designapression of the human spirit. tion of once being called nigger We’ve seen this pluralistic and savage. country celebrate holidays that Some components of the reflect the heritage and values


A look at Yale Bowl moments in black history

breaking process included: bull whipping the male in presence of other slaves, especially the wife and children and using black slave women as sex objects exploited by the master for his indulgence, literally destroying the black family. In addition, some take offense, and most times are quick to say, “the race card is being pulled,” when black Americans remind the world of its pain and suffering or have the audacity to talk about institutional racism, structural racism, mass incarceration or the inequalities of wealth, politics, and media monopolies. Maybe it’s guilt, or fear of freedom it would give, as in the character Django played by Jamie Fox in the movie “Django Unchained,” or is it just the invisibility of the American privilege. The character still had a master. Just because a people are physically free, doesn’t mean they’ve been removed from the systematic shackles of mental slavery, as some black Americans are still haunted by the plantation ghost, afraid to disrupt the status quo. Harriet Tubman said it right, when she noted, “I freed thousands of slaves, and could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.” On many festive holidays you will find some black Americans partaking in celebrations of other cultures, as if it’s their

By Bob Barton

The Register takes a look back at memorable events from the Yale Bowl’s first 100 years featuring notable moments in black history at Yale Bowl. Nov. 6, 1915— Brown 3, Yale 0: Fritz Pollard, the first AfricanAmerican to play in the Bowl, started at right halfback for Brown but got scant mention in accounts of a game the Bears won 3-0. Writers focused on H.P. Andrews, who kicked the field

own, but it’s rare others would find themselves immersed in black holidays or traditions. I have asked other ethnic groups why wouldn’t they wear a dashiki, a kufi, hijab, kente cloth, kanzu, kanga or even celebrate Kwanzaa or black history month, for the most part the answer is: that’s not my culture and frankly speaking, I don’t respect it as I respect my own. Inappropriate behavior and mental slavery among some in the black culture is prevalent today, as much as it was pre-Civil War period. However, this inappropriate behavior and mental slavery is not a means to offend, but a path to educate the consciousness to appreciate its own human identity and worth. Several years ago, when I lived in Naples, Italy, I was introduced to “The Willie Lynch Letter: the Making of a Slave.” And as we conclude black history month and talk about the black experience of 2013, I would be remiss to exclude the psychological scars that black America faces thorough the methods of a white slave master named Willie Lynch. In a speech, Lynch defined his controlling methods to other slave owners in Jamestown, Va., in 1712. Lynch said, after catching the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree a couple miles back, “I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I

guarantee every one of you, that if installed correctly, will control the slaves for at least 300 years.” “Distrust, fear, and envy for control purposes,” were primary methods Lynch used to pitch slaves against one another. Consequently, the new plantation has evolved, from the slave block to the hood block, where street warfare has become the battleground of increased homicides among black youth, a profitable prison enterprise of shackled black men branded by inmate numbers, and uncle tom habits that divide the community. “The black slave after receiving this indoctrination will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands,” Lynch said. Before we judge another group of people and point the finger and say, “why is this happening,?” we should be reminded of the emotional distress and psychological trauma that has been inflicted on black America in the most brute and inhumane way. White America will never understand what its like being black in this country with constant negative stereotypes looming over your head. Certainly, for the cynical ones reading this, this is no excuse. However, just as all wounds have to heal, this too deserves healing. Originally published February 19, 2013.

Merchant Marine 0: Jackson, the hometown favorite and Yale’s first black player, made his college debut by scoring two touchdowns — one Nov. 25, 1943— Hillhouse 52, West on a 59-yard run — as the Bulldogs won their opener in a romp. He would Haven 6: Levi Jackson, left halfback for undefeated Hillhouse High, ran for go on to be the nation’s fifth-leading 272yards, scored six touchdowns and rusher for the season. added four extra points as his team Sept. 24, 1949— Yale 26, crushed West Haven in their annual Connecticut 0: Jackson went to game. The performance helped earn midfield for the pregame coin toss, him a place on the Register All-State becoming the first black player to team, something he achieved again represent Yale as a captain in any in 1944. sport. His team would win four of its eight games, and defeat Harvard. Sept. 28, 1946— Yale 33, goal. Pollard got more ink the next year after Brown beat Yale 21-6and he scored on a twisting punt return.

Oct. 18, 1980 — Yale 30, Columbia 10: Phil Manley became the first black player to start at quarterback for Yale. He led the Bulldogs to their go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, then took a hard hit and was removed from the game. Sept. 26, 2009 — Cornell 14, Yale 12:A senator, a congresswoman and official proclamations welcomed Tom Williams, Yale’s first black head coach, at his first home game. He was to serve three seasons, departing with a record of 16-14.







African slave’s remarkable life traced to Connecticut By Pamela McLoughlin [email protected] @mcpamskids on Twitter NEW HAVEN >> If only Mattye Pearl

Thompson Lanier were alive today to hear about her daughter’s discovery. Mattye Lanier, who died in January 2010 at 86, loved to tell her children and grandchildren about her great-grandfather, Papa Renty, an African slave. Mattye so loved the story and all the meaning it held to her that even when she was sick in later years, her daughter and granddaughters would say, “Tell us about Papa Renty,” and she’d perk up, then tell the story again. “It was consistent, my mother told the story the same way every time,” said Tamara Lanier. It wasn’t until soon after her mom died, however, that Lanier would learn Papa Renty may be more than a storied family ancestor. Lanier believes Papa Renty is the same man as a slave name Renty who played a significant, but little known, role in the history books. As Black History Month starts Tuesday, Lanier is hoping more people will recognize her discovery. Mattye, a teacher and civil rights activist, used to tell them Papa Renty was someone everyone looked up to. He taught people the Bible and to read using a book called “Blue Back Webster,” took care of children, listened with a kind ear to problems of others. He even snuck around to hold church services. Papa Renty, Mattye told her family, was a slave on the Taylor Plantation in South Carolina and some of his children had been sold to the Thompson Plantation. Papa Renty had a son, Renty Taylor, who took the name Renty Thompson after being sold, she told them. It is a story that has been passed through the family’s generations for 160 years. “I got the impression he was rebellious, stubborn,” Lanier said of Papa Renty, based on her mom’s stories. After her mothers’s death, Lanier decided to dig deeper and the story got even better.


An 1850photo of Renty, the possible relative of Tamara Lanier.

Tamara Lanier believes a distant relative may be an African slave linked to a notorious race study.

She was sitting in an ice cream shop about a month after her mother’s death and got into a conversation with the owner about how her mom had always talked about Papa Renty. The shop owner was into genealogy and told Lanier, “let me take a stab.” He found amazing information through the Internet and it’s snowballed from there. It would turn out there was a slave, Renty, who is in the history books because his photograph was used in 1850 by Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz, as evidence that races were different species. Agassiz, considered the leading scientist of his time, theorized that races came from separate origins and could have unequal attributes. Southern slave owners used his arguments to bolster their belief that whites were superior to blacks. Agassiz used the photograph of Renty, one of the earliest images of Southern slaves, to show differences between races. Renty was from Africa and dark-skinned. He was also small in physical stature. “We have to put it in the historical perspective of the time,” Tamara Lanier said, adding she majored in history and minored in African American history in college and still hadn’t heard about the slave Renty. Lanier became fairly sure after extensive research the slave Renty was the Papa Renty she grew up hearing about. She gathered

names, documents tracing he and his family to various plantations, death certificates, probate documents, census documents and pictures that show family resemblance. One obstacle in tracing slaves is that they were often moved, separated from families and identifiable only through photographs. “With the help of a genealogist, I learned that the Congo Renty or Renty Taylor is the Papa Renty that my mom so fondly spoke of. The U.S. Census shows a direct link from Renty Taylor to me. This Census information is exactly consistent with the stories my mom told,” Lanier said. But it hasn’t been so easy getting formal recognition that Papa Renty, who would have been her great-great grandfather, is the same Renty immortalized in the photo. Lanier continues to work on getting the acknowledgement and is trying to do that through Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, which holds the photos. She viewed them in person and met with Peabody officials, but she said they maintain, “we can’t be sure.” In her search, Lanier also found the Renty photograph in the book “Delia’s Tears,” by Molly Rogers, who gives a fictional account of seven South Carolina slaves whose images are in the photo collection at the Peabody. Lost for many years, the photo-

ganization to embark on a project to capture the history of slavery so those contributions can be remembered and to record stories from people about the civil rights movement so those important stories aren’t lost either. When Lanier learned of Renty’s history as a propaganda symbol for inferiority and put it together with stories her mother told about the respected, self-educated man, she was struck by the irony. “He was small (physically), but a larger than life person,” Lanier said. For Lanier, the journey is emotional on many fronts. She said her mom would have been proud of Renty’s contributions, but disappointed by the photos. “You see the pain,” she said, of looking at the photograph. “When you look at pictures of slaves and see that, you get a different feeling knowing they’re your relatives. When you know it’s a relative, it makes it harder to look at.” Lanier said she also knows her mom, a lifelong civil rights activist, would, “love to dispute the ignorance thing.” One of Lanier’s daughters, Shonrael Lanier, who wrote a story book in fourth grade about Papa Renty, based on her grandmother’s tales, said, “I am deeply proud of my background,” and is excited, like her mom, about their recent discoveries. “I think it’s so bittersweet because I know my grandmother would have been so excited,” she said. “She always made sure we knew where we came from...She had a great sense of pride about it.” Lanier, whose quest continues through research, letters and meetings with Harvard officials, said she’s been told by the Connecticut Historical Society that she has a “great American story,” and by Yale University officials, “a story that needs to be told.” She has started to write a book about Papa Renty. “I feel compelled to put this in perspective for my mom,” Lanier said. “I know she’d be determined to set the record straight.”

graphs were rediscovered in the attic of the museum in 1976. Rogers’ book is published by Yale University Press. In a letter to Lanier, Rogers thanks her for sending some of her research, saying she had long hoped while writing the book to find a descendant of men and women in the photographs. But Rogers also said in the letter, “I am sorry to say, however, that the documentary evidence appears to remain inconclusive,” as to whether Papa Renty and Renty are one in the same. Rogers then goes on to cite dates and detailed census information and says they don’t match for Renty to be Lanier’s Papa Renty. Rogers concludes her letter by saying, “I would be happy to look at any other data you might have that could shed further light on the matter -- you only included one census reference in your attachments, but I expect there are many more. I also wish you the very best of luck with your research.” The women will meet in New Haven in February while Rogers is in the city to promote her book. Somewhere along the way, Lanier decided she wants formal acknowledgement of her link to Renty, in part to make a case for restitution of relatives of slaves, not monetary, but for recognition of their contributions. Lanier, chairwoman of the state NAACP’s Criminal Justice First published January 30, Committee, said she’ll ask the or- 2011.



| Celebrating Black History Month




NAACP branch president has focus on future EYES ON GOVERNOR’S RACE

NEWHAVEN>> After nearly a century

of existence for the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP, Dori Dumas shattered the glass ceiling this summer, becoming the first elected female president of a chapter that was established in 1917. Now, several months into her term, Dumas, 50, said the critical issues facing people of color are employment opportunities, home ownership and transportation. “Transportation is a huge issue in the city. A lot of people in New Haven have to go outside to get jobs (and) the issue is getting there and then getting home,” said Dumas. “There are just not a lot of jobs in New Haven.” she said. Dumas, a city native and James Hillhouse House School graduate, served as first vice president of the organization before being elected to the branch’s top seat in June. She replaced outgoing president Jim Rawlings, who stepped down a year into his fourth twoyear term to tend to other causes that were dear to him. Rawlings said Dumas will do “a wonderful job” because she is prepared to lead the New Haven organization. The branch organization has more than 800 members. “The issue of civil rights is not going away. It’s much more sophisticated in terms of the challenges we have in urban America, but Dori has been groomed for this (work) and she has tremendous respect in the community,” said Rawlings. Last March, the branch released its “Urban Apartheid” report, a data-driven document that detailed startling economic, educational, health and other disparities between white people and those of color in the region.


Dori Dumas, the new president of the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP. education committee and we’ll ard, who has been with the branch be (working) with Dr. (James P.) for more than 15 years. Comer to really try to make an “A good leader is not driven by impact in our communities,” she self-interest or ego; that’s Dori,” said. Woodard said. “We’ve met with Mayor (Toni) Dumas, a member of the orHarp, the superintendent of ganization for 25 years, said one schools, and presidents of area of the successes of the branch is colleges,” Dumas said. “I’ll be sit- the Community Impact Mortgage ting down with the experts in the Program, a partnership between field to see where the NAACP can the branch and First Niagara Bank. Home ownership is a critical have impact, so we can move toelement of building wealth and gether as a community.” While some organizations legacy for people of color. “And struggle to maintain membership we are answering that call for the and volunteers, Dumas said, the community with our program,” branch has not lost its footing in she said. the community. The program assists each qual“We’re working harder than ified urban home buyer by proever, we’re getting flooded with viding up to $10,000 in a forgivcalls for our help and support,” able loan for a down payment said Dumas, a graduate of Alber- and closing costs. Qualified buytus Magnus College with degrees ers also will have access to eduin business and economics. cation and financial fitness work“It’s like anything — people shops, as well as individual concomplain until they need us; we’re sultations and assistance. the first one they call,” she said. Voter registration drives are an“We just want to find solutions.” other area of success for the branch. Shawna Woodard, the branch “We’ve always had a very strong assistant secretary, said she’s al- impact with voter registration. ways known Dumas to be in a Not only getting people to regisleadership capacity. ter, but educating them and get“She’s a natural born leader, ting them out to vote,” Dumas RACIAL EQUALITY and what I admire most about said. AND LEADERSHIP her is her motivation. She is not “We know that’s where our motivated by personal interest or voice and the power is, and we’re Dumas said working to close ego; she’s motivated by working here to make sure that people the education gap will be a pri- in the parameters of the organi- understand that,” she said. “We mary initiative in her first term. zation and the parameters of her fought and died for this right and “I’m putting together a new leadership position,” said Wood- it’s something that should not be

According to a Quinnipiac poll, likely voters say Republican Tom Foley would do a better job with the economy and state spending, putting him ahead of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy by 6 percentage points in the contest for governor. Other political analysts see the race as a toss-up. Regardless of the political party preference, Dumas said, people of color have to cast their ballot. “This governor’s race is very critical for people of color. We’re nonpartisan, but people need to clearly look at the issues around jobs and education and the candidates’ platforms they’re supporting,” she said. “This race is going to matter,” she said. “Things can change depending on who is in office for people in urban communities; we really need to pay attention.” Dumas acknowledged that there is no official black political agenda, but said, “We all (people of color) have the same issues and things that we’re concerned about and paying attention too.” The Register reached out to the candidates for an opportunity to discuss their urban policy with voters in New Haven at a community forum, but schedules didn’t permit it to be held.

SPEAKING OUT ON IMPORTANT ISSUES Long time Dumas friend and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister and lawyer Elicia Pegues-Spearman said one of Dumas’ challenges will be continued pressure for civic and community engagement. “Voter registration is always key to our community, (as is) understanding why being involved in the political process makes a difference in the community,” said Pegues-Spearman, who’s the International Leadership Fellows Committee chairwoman of the sorority. Pegues-Spearman said Dumas’

best qualities are her dedication and the courage of speaking on issues that may not be popular. “She has the spirit of community service. It’s the appropriate time to use her experience in this role,” she said. Not long ago, members of the New Haven Fire Department and Dumas expressed frustration to the Board of Fire Commissioners over Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Egan, after the branch accused him of discrimination, violating health privacy laws and mishandling a personnel investigation. Eagan has been placed on paid administrative leave. “My leadership will try to be proactive rather than reactive. We rather work on things we can clearly see and make improvements right away before they become a problem,” said Dumas. She said finger-pointing is not good enough. “When we know that the faculty of schools, the police department and fire department are not looking like the community it serves, we’re proactive and willing to hold those organizations/agencies accountable,” she said. “We just don’t want to talk and point out the problem; we want impact. We are at the table helping make decisions, because most times the people who are making decisions about our life don’t look like us, and that’s unacceptable.”


NAACP State President Scot X. Esdaile said Dumas has been a solider in the branch for many years. “It’s well-deserving and so far she has done an outstanding job and I’m proud of her,” said Esdaile. While Dumas is the first woman elected as Greater New Haven Branch president, she is not the first woman to serve in the post. Rolan Young served a year as branch president in 2000. Young, elected as first vice president, succeeded Roger Vann when he left the top post. Esdaile said Dumas will have to face the challenge of a maleNAACP


taken for granted.”

By Shahid Abdul-Karim [email protected] @Shahid_Akarim on Twitter







dominated role. “The civil rights community is dominated by males, historically. It’s going to be interesting to see a female at the helm of leadership, but if there is anyone that can do it, it’s her,” he said. “She’ll make her mark as a civil rights activist in the largest branch in the state.” Rawlings said she shouldn’t face any challenges as female president. “If she wasn’t a known entity, it would be different. But across the state we have a pretty good representation of females that are branch presidents,” he said.“Dori has been the backbone of the organization.” Woodard said Dumas will not get any pushback as a female. “In any other situation, I would say yes. But Dori has been a prominent face for the organization for years and has earned the respect of all members,” she said.


Dumas has been called a champion of community service by members of the branch and the local chapter of Theta Epsilon Omega of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., of which she’s a member. “She’s very sincere and passionate about the work that she does. She has this level of energy that’s kind of unparalleled,” said Theta Epsilon Omega chapter President Nicole Murphy. “She’s going to fight and go hard for the causes she believes in,” said Murphy. “It’s her commitment, consistency and compassion that has definitely made an impact on our chapter and community.” Dumas said growing up, she had mentors who happened to be members of the sorority. “I know how they treated me and the impact that they had on me in the community,” said Dumas. “I’ve always been community-minded and held myself to a certain standard and AKA met that for me.” Dumas is motivated by her family and her love for New Haven. She said she loves opening doors for young people and seeing progress in the community. Dumas is hopeful to see a black or Latino governor during her lifetime. Call Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim at 203-6809343. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com.



Area Freedom Riders recount parts they played in journeys to the South waiting rooms, restaurants and restrooms, which had separate areas for whites and blacks. They followed a strictly nonviolent code of conduct: Be courteous, no matter what is shouted at you; never raise your voice; remain calm, even in an angry mob; protect yourself physically if someone hits you, without making any aggressive movements yourself. Black Freedom Riders sat next to white Freedom Riders on the bus. Also, a black Freedom Rider always tried to occupy the front seat.

By Jim Shelton

For the price of a bus ticket, Lula White and the Rev. Ralph Lord Roy landed themselves honored seats in history. All they had to do was try to sit at a lunch counter or use a restroom in the segregated South in 1961 and not budge until the police hauled them off to jail. They were Freedom Riders, a group of roughly 400 people from around the country who journeyed south to see if the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of personal liberty was, in fact, true. “It was a real, frontal attack on segregation,” says White, a 72-year-old retired history teacher from New Haven who spent two months in a Mississippi prison for walking into a whites-only waiting room. “It was more defiant, in a way, than a legal fight. It was saying, ‘I’m just not going to cooperate with segregation.’” White now lives with her sister in Hamden, will talk about her experiences as a Freedom Rider this afternoon at 4 at the Peoples Center, 37 Howe St., in New Haven. As for Rev. Roy, an 82-yearold retired Methodist pastor who lives in Southington, he spent one night in a Florida jail as a result of his Freedom Ride. He considers it one of the most significant acts of his life. “This had to be done. It was a mission, if you will,” Rev. Roy says. “We were ashamed that our country was tainted by this evil of segregation.” Joelle Fishman, coordinator of the event where White will be speaking, says honoring the Freedom Riders of the past “serves us well” in working for equality today. She also notes that many young people are unaware of the Freedom Rides. “They’re learning about it for the first time and becoming inspired,” she says.


Retired New Haven history teacher Lula White, who now lives in Hamden, shows the mugshots of Freedom Riders, including one of herself. White spent time in the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm, for her role in the protest.

GET ON THE BUS Back in 1961, the idea was to test the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that laws separating the races at bus terminals were unconstitutional. James Farmer, national director of the Congress of Racial Equality, led an interracial Freedom Ride to Southern bus terminals in May. Angry mobs attacked the two CORE buses, sending some of the riders to the hospital. Undaunted, CORE put out a call for additional Freedom Riders, who set out for destinations from Florida to Louisiana. It was truly a cross-section of Americans. There were college students, young professionals, rabbis, ministers and activists: male and female, black and white. They traveled by bus and tried to integrate bus terminal

White, then 22 and a CORE member, lived in Chicago. She’d seen in the news what happened during Farmer’s initial Freedom Ride. “From then on, I absolutely knew I was going to go,” she says. “I have to admit I was frightened. But it was empowering, too.” On July 6, she left Chicago and went to Nashville, where she got her Freedom Rider training. “We needed to get used to people screaming angry words at us,” she says. There were eight riders in her group, six men and two women. They took a Trailways bus to Montgomery, Ala., and then to Jackson, Miss. A crowd was waiting for them at the bus terminal in Jackson. “The bus driver opened the door,” White recalls. “Jeanne (Herrick) and I were sitting up front, and I was the first one off the bus. I wondered if my knees would buckle.” They didn’t. White quickly located the terminal’s waiting area for whites and walked to it. Within 30 seconds, a local police officer approached her and told her she had to leave. White said she had a constitutional right to be there. “He gave me three warnings and then arrested us,” White says. And so began her jail odys-

sey. She spent the night at the Jackson city lock-up, appeared in court the next day -- she was found guilty -- and eventually went to the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm. Guards confiscated her Bible and her collected works of Shakespeare. She wasn’t allowed to leave her cell, except to walk to the end of the cell block on Mondays and Thursdays to take a very short shower. Once a week, the guards gave her a sheet of paper with 19 lines, so she could write a letter to a family member or friend. The only information she got about the outside world came when new Freedom Riders arrived at the prison. “All the women were in one cell block, segregated by race,” White says. “Jeanne and I could talk to each other, but never be in the same cell.” Still, she says she knew national attention was focused on the Freedom Riders. She served out her sentence and left Parchman in September. “I breathed a sigh of relief when I got out of Mississippi,” she says. “I didn’t take the bus. I took the train back.”


Rev. Roy’s Freedom Ride departed from Washington, D.C., in June. It was an all-clergy ride, starting out with 18 ministers and rabbis. At the time, Rev. Roy was a minister at Grace Methodist Church in New York City. In later years, his career also took him to the United Methodist Church in Clinton, Mary Taylor United Methodist Church in Milford and New Haven’s First and Summerfield United Methodist Church. “We were so resolved, so eager to change America,” he says. But the ride proved frustrating. They encountered little RIDERS » PAGE 11



| Celebrating Black History Month


| 11


From slavery to wealth, an unlikely story By Daniela Forte

The stone marking the grave of Venture Smith.

Riders FROM PAGE 10

more than frowns as they rode to bus terminals in Raleigh, N.C.; Sumter, S.C.; and Savannah, Ga. Just north of Sumter, at a private restaurant, a hostile crowd met them and the restaurant wouldn’t allow the riders to go inside. “It wasn’t a scheduled stop, so we had to get back on the bus,” Rev. Roy says. “We felt we had lost, because we didn’t integrate that place. We felt we weren’t successful.” Their chance would come at the end of the line, after the scheduled Freedom Ride was completed. At the airport in Tallahassee, Fla., while waiting to board flights back north, 10 of the clergymen decided to integrate the airport restaurant. They were told the restaurant was closed for cleaning, yet there were din-

It is an unlikely story, one that many people may not know from a period when our nation was at war with the British. This story is about an African slave named Venture Smith, who bought his freedom in the 18th century and transformed himself into a wealthy businessman in Connecticut. In 2005, Torrington resident and preservationist Chandler Saint set out to document the life of Venture Smith, and was joined by David Richardson, a professor of history at the University of Hull in England and director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) in Kingston-Upon-Hull. The Documenting Venture Smith Project also involved a collaboration with the University of Connecticut. “Venture enters Western slavery on Aug. 29, 1739,” said Saint,

ers inside. The Freedom Riders waited outside the restaurant until midnight, before spending the night on the floor of a local church. They returned the next morning and were arrested at the airport. “When the police came in, they were going to also arrest the local clergy who’d come to support us. We said, ‘No, they’re not a part of this,’” Rev. Roy says. “So they gave us about 20 seconds and then they rounded us up. We were all fingerprinted by one police officer. He told me, ‘I’m sorry, reverend, we shouldn’t be doing this.’” After a night in jail, the 10 clergy were found guilty of unlawful assembly and sentenced to either 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. The group appealed and returned home. Their appeal went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964, when the court refused to hear the case. Most of the clergy elected to return to Florida, where they served four days and were released.

who is the president of The Beecher House Center for the Study of Equal Rights in Torrington. That entity has its origins in Saint’s unsuccessful attempt to turn the dismantled pieces of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Litchfield birthplace into a museum and cultural center in that town. The pieces of Stowe’s birthplace remain in storage. Venture Smith was born in Dukandarra in Guinea about the year 1729, and was the son of the Prince of the Tribe of Dukandarra, according to a narrative by Venture Smith that was possibly dictated to a school teacher, Elisha Niles, or Charles Holt, the man who published Venture Smith’s narrative. That account comes from the book “Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith” written by Mr. Saint and George Krimsky of Washington. Smith’s narrative, according to brochures provided by the

Beecher House Society Inc., was published in 1798. Smith was bought as a “venture” by a Rhode Island slave ship’s officer, who was the son of “one of the merchant dynasties of that region,” according to the Beecher House Society. The officer, Robinson Mumford, placed the boy with one of his sisters to learn English and Colonial customs, the story goes. In 1754, Venture Smith married a woman named Meg, probably in January or February, according to a timeline on Documenting Venture Smith Project. That same year, Smith, along with family members, were sold to Thomas Stanton of Stonington. Smith spent a quarter-century in slavery under three different owners before buying his freedom in 1765 from his final owner, Col. Oliver Smith, from whom he took his surname, according to brochures from the Beecher House Society Inc.

After allowing him to buy his freedom, Colonel Smith and Venture Smith had to figure out how to make the transition from owner and property to a different relationship. For the next 30 years, they engaged in business deals and partnerships, Mr. Saint explained. Their families for three generations have had ongoing relationships as well. “You don’t have racism in America in the 18th century,” Saint said. “Racism is a construct that develops in the opportunities — and all that Venture had at the time of the Revolution, those doors start to close in the late 1790s and early 19th century.” Venture Smith sold his house and land in Stonington and moved to Long Island in 1767, and in 1769 he purchased his two sons, Solomon and Cuff, out of slavery. He then bought land on Long Island and 26 acres in Stonington, according to a timeline. SMITH » PAGE 12

to the South in 1962 and occupied a jail cell next to Dr. Martin Luther King in Albany, Ga., after a peaceful protest. That’s a whole other story. “It was all part of the same struggle, but a different chapter,” he says. Call Jim Shelton at 203-7895664. Follow us on Twitter at Tw itter.com/NHRegBuzz or search for New Haven Register Buzz on Facebook.



“Freedom Riders,” a traveling exhibit of images and text from the Civil Rights movement in 1961, is now on display in a rotating exhibit at Alma College. It will be shown in the Tyler Van Dusen Rotunda, the Dow Science Center lobby and the Remick Heritage Center.

Lula White will talk about her experience as a Freedom Rider at 4 p.m. today at the Peoples Center, 37 Howe St., in New Haven. The event will begin with an announcement of the winners of an art and writing competition for high school students. There also will be a panel discussion about today’s social justice issues. For more information, call 203-6248664.

Rev. Roy, who was in the midst rowed $500 against his life insurof pastoring two racially-tense ance policy and paid his fine. By Originally published February congregations in Brooklyn, bor- that time, he’d already returned 26, 2011







Retired teacher taught, lived history as member of Freedom Riders Lula White’s life was forever changed in May 1961 when she saw a newspaper photo of a burning bus in Alabama that was carrying Freedom Riders. At the time, White was at the University of Chicago, poised to begin graduate school that fall and already working as a teacher. The vivid photograph seen around the world would become one of the iconic images of the civil rights movement. It was May 14, 1961 — Mother’s Day — and the bus carrying Freedom Riders had been set on fire as a mob of whites armed with clubs, knives and fists attacked the passengers. The Freedom Riders were groups of whites and blacks traveling in buses across the South to challenge segregation policies. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that laws separating the races at bus terminals were unconstitutional, but that was ignored in some Southern areas. “As soon as I saw it (the burning bus), I knew I shouldn’t spend the summer at Lake Michigan playing NEW HAVEN >>

Smith FROM PAGE 11

Saint said a majority of historic sites, houses and buildings that played a part in Venture Smith’s narrative have accumulated a secondary history over their lives. “The one that Venture actually lived in is one that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) acquired ... around 1960,” said aint, who indicated that it later burned. “We actually found ... part of the foundation, which would have been the first building Venture actually owned herself.” Saint said that the house Venture Smith helped to build in Stonington to gain his freedom still exists, and that the Smith family’s property and gravesite at Haddam Neck on the Connecti-

him and then having to disobey him when he said “no.” It wasn’t that her dad didn’t support the Freedom Riders’ cause, but he thought it was men’s work, White said. The day she left, White mailed a letter to her father in New Haven that went something like this: “Dear Daddy, If you don’t hear NEW HAVEN REGISTER FILE PHOTO from me in a couple of months, I might be in jail.” Lula White was a Freedom Rider. She wound up in jail all right, bridge,” said White, now 73 and a but the time wouldn’t be passed longtime New Haven resident. “It reading and writing, as she had planned. wasn’t right to just relax.” So like many college girls, HER BEGINNINGS White followed her heart. Knowing full well that she White was born in the segrewould be arrested, White decided gated South in a small town, Euto become a Freedom Rider. faula, Ala.; she moved to BirHer plan was to join the peace- mingham, then with her family ful protest when her teaching job to New Haven just before her sevended in June and to be back by enth birthday. They moved here late August when graduate school so her father could take a job at began. Armstrong Rubber Co. A good planner, White packed She only spent a year of school the complete works of Shake- in the South, but became aware speare, the King James Bible and of segregation later from relatives a few notebooks to keep a journal. who visited here. “As you get older, your parents “I didn’t tell my father about the Freedom Rides,” White said. talk about it (segregation),” she said. She said that to just go and do it “And we read the Negro Press.” was less disrespectful than asking The trip to New Haven was

memorable because it was the first time she ever rode on an integrated train. The train was segregated the first half of the trip from Birmingham to Washington D.C., but from D.C. to New Haven, the train carried blacks and whites in the same car. “I was just amazed. It was another way of life,” she recalled. “I remember my mother saying, ‘Don’t stare at the white people.” White, a top-notch student, graduated from Hillhouse High School and later the University of Chicago, where she earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history. Even though her formative years were spent in the North, civil rights issues were never far from her sights. In her senior year of high school, her father took the family to Woolsey Hall to an event in support of the Montgomery bus boycott. In her fourth year at the University of Chicago, White was president of the campus chapter of the NAACP. In her last year of college, White and one of her roommates went down to the student sit-in at Woolworth’s to “get a look.” “I was amazed that without vio-

lence” so much was accomplished, she said. “It shows what united action can do.” White, who has worked as a social worker and a claims adjuster, had a 28-year career teaching history at Career High School, beginning when it was known as Richard C. Lee High School. She retired in 1996. Ironically, although she was a part of U.S. history, White didn’t share her Freedom Rider story with students. But when colleagues found out, they sometimes asked her to speak to their students. She only talked about it in recent years.

cut River is a pristine archeological site. The project included the excavation of the gravesite to see what could be learned from the remains and genetic evidence. This led to a BBC documentary in 2007, “A Slave Story,” according to documents by the Beecher House Society Inc. The project also created a genetic map of the family descendents, along with chronicling ongoing efforts to preserve the 500-acre site in Haddam where Smith’s homestead and trading business once stood. In 1774, Smith had sold his land in Stonington, and that same year he left Long Island for Haddam. In 1775, he bought 10 acres in Haddam Neck, according to a timeline. Venture Smith died in 1805 in Haddam. “David recognized that Venture was one of the ideal people

things in his life and his triumphs but also pointing out some of his failures.” “The part of Venture that is really quite unique [is that] we have his documented descendents,” Saint said. “[The] University of Connecticut is running a longterm DNA project around Venture Smith and his descendents.” Other aspects of documenting Smith’s life include a collection of poems by prize-winning poet and collaborator Marilyn Nelson, who published “The Freedom Business” in 2008. There is also a book of original essays, each by a distinguished scholar, entitled “Venture Smith and the Business of Slavery and Freedom.” It was published by the University of Massachusetts Press. More recently came “Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith,” which was published in 2009 by Saint and

George Krimsky. The project has produced a CD that includes a historical re-enactor reading Venture Smith’s narrative, and copies of the narrative are available to purchase. There are maps, timelines, and other visual images in a traveling Venture Smith exhibit, suitable for classrooms and historical societies, which was released in 2009. Saint said that while the research portion has come to an end, as of January 2011 it was clear that the scope of the project exceeded that of any other similar effort. “Venture made a very deliberate decision to be part of America. Venture is one of the very first people in writing to define himself as an African American,” said Saint.

to tell the story of slavery from the proper perspective as a world event,” said Saint, referring to Mr. Richardson, the professor from England. “David and I started to develop this concept of creating a UNESCO World Heritage Site around it.” In 2005, at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, there was a conference that launched Documenting Venture Smith. Starting from scratch on research meant that Saint and Richardson had to begin with Venture’s own narrative; it as one of two autobiographies, with the other being published in 1772. “It becomes one of a handful of great 18th century American autobiographies and an important piece of American literature,” said Saint. “For an autobiography, he really did show great truth and precision ... [about] what he had done highlighting the great


As a Freedom Rider, White first went for training in Nashville. “We did role playing to see how we could keep our cool,” White said. They also practiced rolling into a ball to protect their faces. There were about 400 Freedom Riders from around the country who journeyed to where segregation was rampant to test the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of personal liberty. The movement was orchestrated by the Congress of Racial TEACHER


By Pamela McLoughlin [email protected] @mcpamskids on Twitter


Originally published February 13, 2012.

Teacher FROM PAGE 12

Equality, also known as CORE. The dangerous part, they all knew from the start, was from Montgomery, Ala., to Jackson, Miss. Her fateful ride was on July 9, 1961. “When we got to Jackson, we got off the bus. There were lots of policemen and hecklers,” she said. White walked right into a waiting room for whites at the Trailblazers Bus Station. “A couple of Jackson police officers told me to leave,” she said. “I told him, ‘I have a constitutional right to be here.” They gave her three warnings. “The next thing I knew I was in a paddy wagon,” White said. She and the other seven in the group went directly to jail. In court, they were found guilty of breach of peace, with no chance to tell their side. Within a couple of days, they were taken on a long ride to Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm. At Parchman, even the cells were segregated, although the cellblock was mixed. The first thing they did was take White’s suitcase. So much for all the reading she was going to do that summer. There were no visitors allowed, no telephone calls, no television and no exercise in the maximum security prison. Each cell had a bunk bed and when things started to fill up, also a mattress on the floor. The small cell had a commode and basin. They were in there all day except Monday and Thursday, when she and her cell mate would walk for a 2- to 3-minute shower. “That whole summer we kept the jails full,” White said proudly, referring to the Freedom Riders. “I was alarmed by the conditions. I wasn’t used to being without books.” White said that when they arrived, the women were given an internal examination -- they were told officials were looking for dope. “I didn’t know there were body cavities where you could hide dope,” White said. The women found a way to make the time pass -- and some of it could land them in trouble. Every Sunday they received a


sheet of lined paper and a pencil; a few of the women would break off little pieces of lead so they could write on toilet paper during the week. “We’d pass notes from cell to cell,” White said. At one point when the women learned the men being held upstairs had been put on a bread and water diet, they tore their slips and devised a pulley system to get food up to them through the air shafts. Not that the food was great. There was no meat, only vegetable stews, butter beans, black-eyed peas and biscuits. At some point, however, the women got busted by the prison guards and were punished by having their mattress taken away for the night. She said they passed the time playing word games and a couple of the women played chess on toilet paper. “We’d have singing every day,” White said. Every Saturday night they’d do a pretend “radio program” called the “Midnight Special.” Each cell would contribute an act of some kin - singing, a joke or something else entertaining. She remembers visits from three clergy members. There was a white southern Baptist minister who told them they were going against Christianity because whites and blacks were supposed to be separated. A Catholic priest came and gave communion to the Catholics. A rabbi came, took their names and wrote to the families to tell them the women were OK. While in jail, she would learn, “We were getting national and international attention.” As time wore on, two “lady lawyers” were arrested as well and gave White and her cellblock a legal overview. White decided to post an appeal bond because the full sentence of four months was longer than she could stay because of graduate school. She was released Aug. 18, 1961. While in jail, White had missed big news stories such as the Russians sending a cosmonaut into space and the building of the Berlin Wall. “I was thrilled to get out,” she said. And in 2007 she’d realize that rising political star Barack Obama was born during her imprisonment.

“There he was being born in Hawaii. To think that someone who would become the first black president was born during that time -- that struck me,” White said. Although glad to be released -she won on appeal -- White has never regretted her decision to become a Freedom Rider. “That was the most liberating thing I ever did; it was self-liberating,” she said. “I can’t think of anything more liberating.” White kept in touch with a few fellow Freedom Riders through the years -- and has a coffee table book on the movement that includes her mug shot along with the others. Last year she didn’t go to the reunion because she wasn’t fond of then-Gov. Haley Barbour, who had made racially insensitive remarks and painted Mississippi as a better place than it was during segregation. White has had a few other arrests in her life for standing up to what she perceived as injustice, including for participating in a teachers’ strike in 1975 (they were held for six days at a National Guard camp), as a graduate student for protesting segregated private graduate housing, and most recently, in 2002 when she was among hundreds blocking College Street during Yale University labor negotiations. Last year she received a Trailblazers Award from the New Haven Firebirds Society and the plaque displays her Freedom Rider mug shot. “It’s probably the most worthwhile thing you can do in your life -- to change history,” White said. “That was my shot.” White never married, because, as she put it, “Never the right man at the right time.” On civil rights progress, White says, “We haven’t come as far as we could have come.... There’s some progress, but I think of it is slipping away. ... We always felt in this country each generation would make more progress.” White is big on giving credit to everyday people who did something help the cause. “I’m not a brave person,” she said. “I don’t think I would have gone if I didn’t see that picture of the burning bus -- I had to do something. ... Sometimes when you’re afraid, you do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do.”

| Celebrating Black History Month


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Howard K. Hill, owner of Howard K. Hill Funeral Services, is photographed in his New Haven showroom/office.

Businessman provides comfort to community By Shahid Abdul-Karim [email protected] @Shahid_Akarim on Twitter

A few days before Howard K. Hill received official notification that his funeral service business had been registered in the state, he received his first death call. That was in 2004. More than a decade later, Hill has two funeral home locations and was recently installed as the first African American president of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association. “I was able to actually run my first funeral service through my business without knowing how I was going to pick up the deceased,” said Hill, 46, who didn’t have a funeral hearse or a staff at the time. “I had knowledge and understanding of the business and made it happen,” Hill said. “It worked out and my business has been flourishing from day one.” When Hill finally received his official notification that he was a business, his daughter was born NEW HAVEN >>

the same day. Hill, the owner of Howard K. Hill Funeral Services, was installed as president of the 126-year-old organization on Jan. 1, which he calls a milestone to be able to serve as its leader. “The face of African American’s have not historically been a apart of the history of this organization, which doesn’t necessarily appear to represent African Americans,” said Hill, who has a funeral home at 1287 Chapel St., and 319 Barbour St. in Hartford. “Just because the organization does not have African Americans represented, doesn’t mean the organization does not represent African Americans; it represents funeral directors,” Hill said. Hill said there are several African American funeral directors in the state and believe they should become involved with the association. “I’m hopeful that more African American funeral directors will become involved and tell their stories, so they can communicate COMMUNITY







Community FROM PAGE 13

how the organization can best serve them,” said Hill. The Connecticut Funeral Directors Association is comprised of funeral directors from more than 220 funeral homes. The organization is committed to the promotion and advocacy of high ethical standards in funeral service. This includes development and presentation of professional training opportunities for practitioners and educational programs for association members and the public, according to its website T he a ssociation wa s founded in 1889. CFDA Executive Director John F. Cascio said Hill is a respected funeral director who brings great professionalism and passion to the job. “He is committed to the families and communities that he serves and does whatever is necessary to honor an individual’s life in a dignified, personalized,” said Cascio, who has served as executive director for 28 years. “We look forward to Howard’s leadership over the coming year. He is a critical thinker who will steer our association as funeral service explores new ways to meet the changing needs and wishes of the families we serve,” he said. Former CFDA president, Stephen M. King, said he is honored to have Hill represent the association this year. “I was privileged to have served alongside Howard for several years and look forward to supporting him under his newly appointed role,” said King, who is the funeral home director of Mystic Funeral Home. “His continued leadership, dedication to the funeral industry and to the communities he serves in the Greater New Haven and Hartford areas will undoubtedly continue to promote the integrity and value of funeral service,” King said of Hill.

Hill has been involved in the business for more than 20 years. In 1994, Hill started working for Keyes Funeral Home, one of the first African American Funeral Homes in the city, as he diligently sought only to work for an African American businesses. “Growing up, I lived on a street with majority white kids and my experience going to a majority white school was traumatizing for me,” said Hill, a native of Windsor. “In elementary school, I was called nigger at least once a week and was kicked out of school every other week for fighting, because of being called nigger,” he said. Hill said because his childhood scars, he knew he wouldn’t do well working for companies or others. “I couldn’t understand why I would be treated differently than my white counterparts,” Hill said. “I became very sensitive to racism and didn’t tolerate it very well,” he said. As many Americans celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. today on the national holiday, forty-seven years after his death, Hill said blacks have made some individual achievements, but racism is still prevalent in the nation. “Individually we can make it as African American’s in this country, to that degree things have changed,” said Hill. “However, collectively, we have challenges; we’ve lost our collective vision and will to thrive as a race,” “Our leaders have to collaborate with one another versus competing with each other.” From Hill’s perspective, economic empowerment is the greatest challenge facing blacks in the city and throughout the country. As of this year, AfricanAmerican buying power is predicted to reached $1.1 trillion, according to The State of the African-American Consumer from Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association , a federation of more than 200 Black com-

munity newspapers across the U.S. “We need to start thinking how we can become more independent and practice group economics; being very purposeful of making sure our dollars stay in our community,” said Hill, who has a philanthropic system within his business where a percentage of his income is given back to the community. “We’ve been conditioned to be the fuel for others interest and to work for them and help them become successful,” he said. “We’re not in the economic game, America is about economics.” Hill, along with other philanthropist, have developed The Prosperity Foundation, a fund for African American’s in the state, with a specific focus on economics, education, and health. “This foundation will support the unique needs of the black community with a (design) to empower our community economically,” said Hill. “I believe when you work for a system, you have to buy into that system; we’re creating our own system and an economy for the space we need for ourselves,” he said. Dr. Tamiko V. Jackson, owner of New Haven Pediatric & Adolescent Medical Services said Hill was one of the first persons to back her when she decided to open her own practice. “From day one, he took me under his wing and whenever I needed to talk with him about the ins and outs of running a successful business he is there,” said Jackson, who worked for the then-Hospital of St. Raphael for eight years before opening her practice in 2006. “I’ve always looked up to him,” said Jackson, a Howard University College of Medicine graduate. “Howard is about the community and he is always encouraging others in business to give back,” she said of Hill. Contact Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim at 203-680-9343.




Attorneys Bevin Salmon, left, and Michael Jefferson are photographed outside of Superior Court in New Haven in June 2014.

Legal experts share concern about inequality in justice By Shahid Abdul-Karim sa[email protected] NEW HAVEN >> Attorney Michael Jeffer-

son knew the evidence against his client did not lean in her favor. Yet the black mother of three had no prior involvement with the criminal justice system when she was arrested on drug charges. Jefferson, 50, said he believes the initial plea offer could have been different, and quite possibly the outcome, had she been white. “That was one of the first instances as an attorney that I felt race was an overwhelming factor in deciding the fate of one of my clients,” said Jefferson, who’s been a local defense lawyer for more than 15 years. “The prosecutor wanted her to do two years in jail for selling drugs,” he said. “In most of the cases that I’ve handled involving first-time offenders charged with dealing drugs, the defendant usually doesn’t go to jail.”

Further, Jefferson noted the judge offered to give his client consideration if she tested clean for drugs. She did so. The prosector then reduced the state’s offer to one year in jail. However, Jefferson was able to move the case before another judge, who gave his client probation in lieu of jail. The sting of perceived racism in the judicial system has left some feeling that the cards are unfairly stacked against people of color, especially among young black men. Racial disparities and the lack of diversity within the system are reasons some believe blacks are disproportionately incarcerated, policed and sentenced to death at higher rates than their white counterparts. “Historically, white society has long maintained an irrational and entrenched fear of black men,” said Jefferson. “The fear is clearly manifested in the marginalization and JUSTICE





Justice FROM PAGE 14

mass incarceration of black men in American society.” A 2014 report by the National Academy of Sciences, “The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences,” found that, of those imprisoned nationwide in 2011, about 60 percent were minorities, including 858,000 blacks and 464,000 Hispanics. The report found that “racial and ethnic disparities in imprisonment reached extreme and unprecedented levels in the 1980s and 1990s.” They have since declined but “remained at deeply troubling levels.” Further, the report concludes: “They are partly caused and significantly exacerbated by recent sentencing laws aimed at achieving greater severity, certainty and crime prevention and by law enforcement strategies associated with the war on drugs. They also result partly from small but systematic racial differences in case processing, from arrest through parole release, that have a substantial cumulative effect. And they are influenced by conscious and unconscious bias and stereotyping that remain pervasive in America despite the near disappearance of widespread beliefs about racial superiority and inferiority.” In one example of systemic differences in case processing, the report says, “A sizable literature has long shown and continues to show that blacks are more likely than whites to be confined awaiting trial (which increases the probability that an incarcerative sentence will be imposed), to receive incarcerative rather than community sentences, and to receive longer sentences. “While there is not convincing evidence of widespread racial bias in sentencing, there is, in contrast with several decades ago, credible evidence that black defendants are treated differently,” the report says. As of Jan. 1, the incarcerated population in Connecticut totaled 16,594, and 15,485 of that number were men, according to the Department of Correction website. Of those inmates, 6,934


| Celebrating Black History Month

judges will do the right thing; it’s anxiety for many of them.” he said. Robert Devlin, chief administrative judge for the Criminal Division of the state Superior Court, said several factors are looked at before a decision is made. “We look at the aggravating and mitigating factors. If the person is young or has no prior criminal record, I’ll consider that a mitigating factor,” said Devlin. “Then we look at the victim to determine whether or not they were traumatized in a way of emotional harm; is it a minor or serious offense? Every crime is different,” he said. Devlin said in cases where the NEW HAVEN REGISTER FILE PHOTO offender has been neglected as a Justice Lubbie Harper Jr. at work on opinions in his offices at 235 child or has had difficult circumChurch St., New Haven. stances growing up, those would were black and 4,336 were His“I tell all my clients that the be considered mitigating factors. panic. Whites comprised 5,207 of criminal justice system is arbithe inmate population. trary. You can get the same set of CONNECTICUT NUMBERS “The criminal justice system facts on individuals and come out According to the judicial is a microcosm of the larger soci- with two totally different disposi- branch External Affairs Division, ety; I just don’t think whites and tions depending on who the judge of the state’s 173 Superior Court blacks are viewed in the same or the prosecutor is,” he said. judgeships, white males and felight,” said Jefferson, New EngSalmon said he could not speak males disproportionately outland district representative for to judges’ motivations regarding number other ethnic groups. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.“I sim- harsh sentencing. There are 92 white male Supe“Each judge is different. While rior Court judges and 47 white feply believe white life is valued more than black life even by some the maximum sentencing on of- males. There are 12 black males, blacks — so it’s important for me fenses and the minimum manda- 11 black females, five Hispanic to present the totality of the black tory on offenses may be uniform, males and no Hispanic females defendant so his humanity isn’t there is a lot of discretion incorpo- on the bench. disregarded.” rated that judges and prosecutors According to the American Bar Jefferson is not alone in his mo- have,” he said. “I tell my clients to Association, lawyers and judges have a unique responsibility for tivation. stay out of the system.” In 2002, attorney Bevin Salmon But Jefferson said he hasn’t sustaining a political system with decided to practice law to advo- seen a pattern of judges hammer- broad participation by all its citcate for minority clients and to ing down the full sentence for mi- izens. A diverse bar and bench provide a sense of cultural diver- nor offenses among black men. create greater trust in the mechsity within the system. “I’ve been fortunate to work anisms of government and the “I’ve had family members in with many prosecutors and judges rule of law. the system, some in civil and the who are very decent and actually And diversity goes straight to criminal setting and you see the care about making the system the heart of the quality of jusdifference when defense attorneys work,” said Jefferson, while also tice, said retired state Supreme are not committed to their cli- noting the most challenging as- Court Justice Lubbie Harper Jr., ents,” said Salmon, 50, who works pect of representing black men is the state’s chairman of the Comas a New Haven public defender. safeguarding their humanity. mission on Racial and Ethnic “In my opinion, too many of “I’ll admit there have been Disparity in the Criminal Jusour people settle with attorneys some challenges along the way, tice System. “It’s the main artery, that are not committed to their and there are some jurisdictions from the entry point of interactcause; I wanted to make a differ- which still linger in the dark ages, ing with police, to the adjudicabut for the most part I don’t en- tory proceedings; the commission ence,” he said. Salmon, who’s of Jamaican de- counter those types of problems,” has worked to promote diversity scent, said possible reasons for he said. and cultural sensitivity over the long prison sentencing could stem Although Salmon agreed with years,” said Harper, a New Haven from diversity issues. Jefferson that it’s rare for cli- native who retired from the Su“Folk will tend to be more sen- ents to receive the maximum preme Court in 2012. sitive to issues that our people are penalty, there is a lack of confiThe commission was estabfaced with if there were more di- dence among some clients on how lished to eliminate racial and ethversity within the system,” said judges will rule. nic disparity in the state’s crimBevin, who studied law at Pace “From my experience with cli- inal justice system. Harper, who University in New York. ents, there’s no confidence that now sits by designation on the


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Appellate Court, said that, from 2001-02, the commission performed a multivariate analysis of cases with sentences of either incarceration or probation. “This study showed that individual’s criminal history was the strongest predictor of a sentence or incarceration,” said Harper, who’s also a longstanding member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Harper was nominated to the Supreme Court in February 2011 by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Approximately one-third of Malloy’s judicial appointments and elevations have been minorities, including three out of five appointments to the Supreme Court, according to the governor’s office. More than 20 percent of Malloy’s total appointments and elevations have been African American, including two appointments to the Supreme Court. “Governor Malloy is deeply committed to increasing the diversity of the bench, as reflected in his appointments,” said Andrew Doba, the governor’s communications director. “He has also sought to encourage more minority candidates to apply to the judicial selection commission, which determines the pool of applicants from which he can select his appointments,” Doba said.

IN THE COURT AND AT HOME State NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile said assessing the evaluations of plea-bargain deals by prosecutors is critical. “Over the years, I’ve seen a lack of diversity among prosecutors in the state; we need to push for more diversity for prosecutors within the urban community,” said Esdaile, who’s been in a leadership role with the organization since 1994. “All of the negotiations or the majority of the cases are handled in the plea bargain process, and that’s where the lack of the diversity is,” he said. “When we look at the deals white kids get and black kids get, they aren’t the same. That’s the issue; it’s in the plea bargain process.” City neighborhoods such as Dixwell, Newhallville and the Hill are home to high concentrations of poverty that in many ways have JUSTICE » PAGE 16







Chi Omicron program stresses importance of reading skills Jerry Poole says storytelling is an African tradition. In an effort to continue that art and to work to increase literacy among young black males, Chi Omicron Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc, has launched its Fatherhood/Circle of Love Reading initiative. “This project is intended to inspire black boys to read. Storytelling is as old as speech and is an African tradition,” said Poole, who has been a member of the fraternity since 1974 and chairman of the Social Action Committee. “Reading aloud to a child is one of the best ways to ensure he or she will develop a love of books and a thirst for knowledge,” he said. The initiative, which was cosponsored by Christian Love Center Church, started NEW HAVEN >>


Members of Omega Psi Phi, New Haven Chapter, with boys they are mentoring.

Justice FROM PAGE 15

forced some in those communities to become more vulnerable to criminal activity. According to an NAACP report, blacks represent 12 percent of monthly drug users, but comprise 32 percent of persons arrested for drug possession. “Universally, its been established that the minority community have been more adversely impacted by drug laws,” said Salmon. “It’s hard to say if the motivations by some judges are racist, but whether racist or not, the impact is the same.” Jefferson said it comes down to how certain communities are policed. “White people and white communities are simply policed differently than blacks and black communities,” Jefferson said. For example, a report by www.

drugpolicy.org found that, from 1980 to 2007, about one in three of the 25.4 million adults arrested for drugs was African American. Devlin said it’s unlikely for judges to give the maximum sentence available on drug cases. “We see far more prosecutions for narcotics versus gun violence. I don’t have the stats on race, but offenders generally, excluding race, are in for the violation of narcotics,” said Devlin, who’s served as a judge for 21 years. However, Devlin noted the importance of diversionary programs within the system, such as the Community Service Drug Education Program. “They are evaluated, then the program sets up a number of sessions and, if they complete the program, the charges are dismissed,” Devlin said. “Judges look at diversionary programs before sentencing. We try to give people a chance to not have a criminal conviction and to participate in the program,”

he said. “Lawyers would make a motion to have their client participate in the program if they’re eligible and that’s usually the first option they go for.”

REVERSING THE CULTURAL TREND Glorifying the thug life is a stigma that needs to change within the black community, according to Salmon. “We have to address this culture of it’s cool to have a criminal past or given street credit by being incarcerated a few times; this type of lifestyle is leading our kids down the wrong path,” said Salmon. “Addressing this problem is one of the biggest things we need to get a hold on as a community.” The Rev. William Mathis, program manager of New Haven’s anti-violence program, Project Longevity, said some youths don’t understand the consequences of committing crimes, especially for

the long term. “What they do understand is the culture in which they presently live, which has become their way of life,” said Mathis, a former assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore. “For many of them, it’s survival and also becomes the expectation,” he said. “Expectation for them and from them; if you don’t expect anything, then you really don’t respect others or need to change yourself.” Mathis said what’s unique about the project is that it not only seeks to reduce homicides and violence, but builds relationships with community stakeholders. “It’s a comprehensive community initiative, which partners with researchers, law enforcement, service providers and the community to reduce group-related homicides and violence,” he said. The chairmen of the strategy and implementation team are

last month with a free pancake breakfast during which fraternity members read to boys ages 5 to 12 who are living in the West River Neighborhood. As part of the program, Circle programs will be conducted twice a month with free book giveaways. The need to improve reading skills and close the achievement gap is documented. A report by the U.S. Department of Education found that black students in the fourth and eighth grades scored lower than their white counterparts on math and reading in every state for which data was available, according to www.ed.gov. Earlier this year, the African American Affairs Commission presented its 2013 legislative agenda to lawmakers and on its list of top priorities was closing the education achievement gap between white students and students of SKILLS


By Shahid Abdul-Karim [email protected] @Shahid_Akarim on Twitter


New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman and New Haven funeral home Director Howard K. Hill. Salmon and Jefferson said they believe that self-hatred is the primary cause that drives gun violence in black communities. But amid the self-hatred and dysfunction among some black youth in the city, Jefferson said there is hope. “The fraternity continues to focus our efforts on creating healthy families through our Fatherhood Initiative program,” said Jefferson. “We believe that eradicating the dysfunction in black families by supporting efforts to increase the number of well-adjusted adult black males is the key to our resurrection and salvation as a people.” The fraternity’s cardinal principles are manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift. Call Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim at 203-789-5614.



| Celebrating Black History Month


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Mentor turned tragedy into a life of helping others NEW HAVEN >> When Johanna Da-


Johanna Davis of New Haven, vice-president of Ice the Beef, mentors mostly middle school and high school students, but also children of all ages.

Skills FROM PAGE 16

color. Poole said some of the differences causing the gap can be explained by institutional racism, as well as socioeconomic factors. According to Poole, some contributing factors are poverty, jobs, and drug abuse. “We’re stepping up to the plate and not letting others define who we are and our problems and concerns as a community,” said Poole, a retired job training program director for Opportunity Industrialization Center. “Love has to be central with everything we do. We have to love our boys, which will ultimately get us to love our people,” he said. The core elements of the project are listening, advocacy, talking, reading, and hugs, according to the organization. As a way to sustain momentum for the project initiative, storytelling competitions will be held to

raise awareness publicly to help address reading disparity, according to Poole. Helping children develop strong reading skills at an early age will lay a foundation for school success that will prevent a school-to-prison pipeline, said Poole. The “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to policies and practices that push students, especially the most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, according to the American Civil Liberties Union website. New Haven attorney Michael Jefferson, a district representative for Omega Psi Phi, said the initiative is part of a national effort of the organization’s commitment to addressing a very real problem in African-American communities across the country. “We recognize that there is a direct correlation between the absence of well-adjusted fathers and the dysfunction that exist in many African-American families,” Jefferson said.

vis was 12, her life changed forever. Davis, now 31, lost her younger brother Jeremy to an accidental electrocution that occurred at a transformer at Ferry Street and Grand Avenue. “Jeremy was my younger brother of two (brothers) and I was traumatized as a kid; little did I know the pain of his death would impact my life for a long time,” said Davis, who is now the COO of the anti-violence organization Ice the Beef. Reaching the point at which she mentors others and works to end violence in the city took a path along a rocky road. “I internalized the pain and grief like so many youth do today,” she said of the time after

New Haven chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. holds scholarship fundraiser. “As district representative for the fraternity, I am fully committed to pursuing the fraternity’s effort in helping fathers reconnect with their children,” he said. Jefferson said the chapter will be encouraging surrogate parenting; assisting fathers who seek to develop better parenting skills; developing quality mentoring programs and assisting efforts that promote sexual responsibility among black males.

her 5-year-old brother died. Things changed rapidly for Davis after Jeremy died; her parents and other siblings were dealing with the loss the best that they could. “My other brother and I moved around a lot for a few years thereafter, I was young and didn’t know what trauma was or even understood how it was affecting me,” she said. “As much as my parents attempted to keep me on the right track, I chose to run my own race,” Davis said. Davis said her grades slipped below average and she no longer had interest in doing anything productive. “I was getting suspended for fighting at least once or twice a month. That same negative behavior led into my high school years,” she said. “More fighting and suspension, but now I was skipping school, carrying blades

Fraternity chapter President James L. Williams said the fraternity is a role model in the community. “This project is one way the fraternity gives back to the community, along with the other things we’ve done such as voter registration drives, Boy Scouts and nonviolence initiatives,” said Williams, whose has served as president for more than three years. “Our main goal is to contribute to the upliftment of our community, so our kids can become the future leaders to move the best interest of our community forward,” he said. Williams retired from Southern Connecticut State University as director of admissions and has been with the fraternity since 1976. According to the fraternity’s website, www.oppf.org, Omega Psi Phi is a group of men that encourages high standards; community service; and assists in building character and leadership development of men. The organization’s cardinal principles are “Manhood, Schol-

in my mouth and getting high; things kept getting worse for me.” Davis’ sister, Kenya ComfortClark, 37, an emergency medical technician, said Davis had difficulties controlling her internal and physical emotions. “Every death is unique and every experience is different. This experience allowed her to display physical reactions and accept abusive relationships,” said Comfort-Clark. “Eventually, her experiences with the tragic death allowed her to turn the negativity surrounding his death into a positive experience, as well as turning her into an inspiring women she is today,” she said. Rashelle Brown, 31, a childcare worker who has known Davis since she was 10, witnessed Davis’ trials and social challenges as a youth. “She was trouble. We were MENTOR


By Shahid Abdul-Karim [email protected] @Shahid_Akarim on Twitter


arship, Perseverance and Uplift.” Omega Psi Phi is the first international fraternal organization to be founded on the campus of a historically black college. It was founded Nov. 17, 1911, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., the website said. Chi Omicron was founded in September 1947 at 43 Townsend Ave, according to Williams. The chapter will hold its third annual scholarship fundraising gala from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday at Tradition Oak Lane, 1027 Racebrook Road, Woodbridge. According to event organizers, scholarships have been awarded to New Haven High school seniors since the inception of the chapter. For information about the gala or to purchase tickets, contact Aaron Washington at 203-6233695. Call Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim at 203-789-5614. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com.




Mentor FROM PAGE 17

defiant towards authority figures and were banned from end-of-theyear trips, assemblies and other activities,” said Brown. “It was very hard for her, she started to engage in at-risk behaviors and her outlets were negative actions.”


There was light at the end of Davis’ gloomy tunnel. “I knew staying in New Haven and doing the same things with the same people, was not going to get me where I needed to be,” Davis said. “I had to take responsibility for my own circumstance and condition and change it. I went to Westover Job Corps in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and within six months got my GED and was certified as a nurse assistant,” she said. Davis moved back to the city and began to dedicate much of her time to volunteering in the community and working with at-risk youth; a population with whom she is all too familiar. “I was in the process of starting my own nonprofit organization specifically geared towards young girls that are experiencing unhealthy relationships, truancy, and all the other social and emotional issues our young people are dealing with in this environment,” she said. “We’re successful, because I was once that young girl.” Then, she joined forces with Ice the Beef Inc. founder Darrell Allick and became COO. “We’ve been working together since 2011 with keeping at-risk youth in our community off the streets,” she said. An aggressive battle cry for more youth programs in the city is part of the ongoing effort to reduce violent crime; particularly homicides. Youth empowerment programs are ways to maximize potential, build self-worth and encourage civic responsibility. Davis noted Ice the Beef has an empowerment five ‘R’ program, which focuses on core areas such as respect, rules, responsibility and resolve, followed by a weekend spent engaging with parents in the “results” portion of the course. “Believe it or not, we start mentoring kids as young as 5 years old. We teach the importance of

the ADL (activities of daily living) such as laundry, cleaning and personal hygiene,” said Davis. Trevor Smith, 18, a freshman at Gateway Community College, and a mentee of the program, said Davis stayed on top of him when his life slowly began to go downhill. “She came into my life very motivational and she helped steer me in the right direction from where I was headed,” said Smith, a graduate of High School in the Community. “I was slowly starting to get back into the streets, and she and Darrell (Allick) reminded me that was not the way. Her role as a mentor in this city is so important, because they’re not many mentors like her.” he said. Smith said he thinks Davis’ strongest quality as a mentor is her organizational skills.


and ITB. “Sometimes it’s life or death for many of our youth. Getting kids to understand we’re going to be there for them is the biggest challenge for us,” said Davis. “These kids are used to having adults promise them certain things and then not following through on their promises; we can’t afford for that to happen in many of our cases,” she said. Allick, who lost his own brother to gun violence in the city, said he has let youth down but has learned from his mistakes. “It’s not easy being a mentor, it’s a lot of responsibility. I’m not perfect and when I told a kid I would be there and didn’t show, it became a big problem,” said Allick, 31, who also is a street outreach worker. “Mentees will even check you or put you in your place, because they’re counting on you to keep your word,” he said. According to Allick, finding what youths need is another barrier. “They’ve already been let down, scared, talked about and counted out. Our job is to uplift them, at the same time trying to get them to understand that change is a process,” said Allick. “Supporting the child is the most important thing as a mentor; it’s not what we want, it’s about what the youth want and their immediate need.” With regards to Davis, Allick said she is the female version of him. “We shared our stories and things we’d been through and what helped us; that’s how she and I connected,” said Allick, “Johanna can relate to the youth in this city, because she’s been there. She has street credibility, and she knows how to run the organization; I’m not too big to say, I learn from her. Allick noted his appreciation for New Haven Family Alliance Executive Director Barbara Tinney for making him a part of her street outreach worker team. The team connects with at-risk youth in the city with a goal to stop violence. Davis also is community engagement consultant for New Haven Promise and is working on completing her bachelor’s degree in human service and psychology.

New Haven Promise Executive Director Patricia Melton said Davis has been essential to New Haven Promise’s outreach to students who may have struggled early on in their academic career. The organization provides college scholarships to city youths who meet certain academic and other criteria. “Promise and ITB have partnered to expand the ‘Kindergarten Back Pack’ drive and to launch ITB’s new website,” Melton said. “In the recent tragic youth crisis in our city, Johanna and the ITB family stepped up to provide safe and age-appropriate activities during spring vacation.” New Haven Black Social Workers Association President Onya L. Harris said Davis’s work is invaluable to the New Haven community. Davis’ role in Ice the Beef “extends beyond management as she models integrity for young parents, mentors young women and teens, and educates parents,” said Harris. “I most respect the accessibility of Johanna to the New Haven community, especially parents. Her knowledge of issues such as women managing emotional abandonment, fatherlessness, and poor self-concept makes her ability to engage teens and their parents the more admirable,” Harris said. Brown said she is honored to know Davis and impressed that she has managed to overcome many obstacles to give of herself to others. Call Community Engagement The role and responsibility as a Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim at mentor is a serious one for Davis 203-789-5614.




Dooley-O Jackson, left, and Alberto Colon in front of their mural of Maya Angelou on the side of Orchard Market in New Haven.

Artist pays homage to Angelou By Shahid Abdul-Karim [email protected] @Shahid_Akarim on Twitter

There was no spraying of bullets in the Newhallville-Dixwell Avenue neighborhoods last week. Instead, there was the spraying of an artist’s paint. Through the art of graffiti, a city artist designed a mural to pay homage to legendary poet Maya Angelou. Angelou, who rose from poverty, segregation and violence to become a force on stage, screen and in print, died last week at 86. She was laid to rest Saturday at a private memorial service in North Carolina. “The mural is already having an impact in this community, and the community is embracing it and wants more,” said graffiti artist Dooley-O Jackson, who spearheaded the project. “Young people need to know who Maya Angelou was; she was an icon of our comNEW HAVEN >>

munity,” said Jackson, 44. “I think that’s where the disconnect is with our younger generation and our older generation; they don’t know one another.” he said. The mural is located at 738 Orchard St. on the side wall of the Orchard Market. According to Jackson, the idea for the mural stemmed from the slaying of store clerk Abdul Rawas, who was shot and killed in an armed robbery at the store last year. In the city’s first homicide of 2013, Rawas had been shot in the back and arm and was taken by ambulance to YaleNew Haven Hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to police. A week before the shooting, Jackson said he spoke with Rawas to get permission to repaint the wall of the store. “After Abdul... passed away due to the robbery, I wanted to do something to honor him. HOMAGE






| Celebrating Black History Month


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Funeral home helps community cope in aftermath of violence Burying homicide victims is the kind of business McClam Funeral Home owners don’t want to see. They know all too well how violence ravages bodies and families. Yet, it is work they approach with pride, professionalism and an eye toward helping a community to heal. Fraternal twins and McClam co-owners Darrell and Darnell McClam, 41, have seen far too many homicide victims since they got into the funeral business in 1989. At the time, the two were young black men who continuously saw the remains of other young black men who were gunned down. The two estimated they have seen thousands of homicide victims’ bodies over the years. They started in New Haven at the Perkins Funeral Home then went to NEW HAVEN >>

Homage FROM PAGE 18

It was just the right time to do something for him and Angelou,” said Jackson. “The way it’s designed, in the years to come, if any of our great role models or leaders pass away, we’d keep Maya there and add another face,” he said. A tribute to Rawas is on the front wall of the store. Alberto Colon, 27, who actually drew the portrait of Angelou, said he met Jackson when he was 8 years old. “When Dooley-O and his crew was painting a wall where I used to live on Stevens Street, I became inspired by their drawings,” said Colon, who grew up in the Hill section of the city. “Now, 20 years later, we’re working together and I’m painting with him; it’s like a dream come true,” he said. Colon said it took three working days to complete the entire project and one day to draw the

work in New York. Darrell McClam said when he was young he wanted to be a hearse driver. He then learned that entailed driving a body, but it didn’t deter him. The brothers went to Wilbur Cross High School and attended American Academy of McAllister Institute in New York City. Darnell finished at American and Darrell transferred to Briarwood College in Southington, where he obtained a degree. Darnell McClam battled with a learning disability that caused him to mix words and numbers. He had to take anatomy three times before passing. He came back to Connecticut to work as a forensic technician for eight years at the office of the chief medical examiner in Farmington.McClam Funeral Home first came to the city in 2001 and is now run by Darrell, Darnell and their father, Bishop Lethenial McClam. The two brothers have ba-

sically followed the same career path through funeral homes.Both got to see the aftermath of gun violence during its peak in the late 1980s and early ’90s in New York. Some days they would see four bullet-riddled bodies a day, Darrell McClam said. Things have slowed down since then. He estimated that his funeral home has taken care of about 160 out of the more than 210 homicides since it came to the city. Times have changed since the late ’80s and early ’90s. Back then, a gang had no problem dropping $10,000 or $15,000 on a funeral for a fallen member. “It’s not that way now. Now, these families struggle to see the funeral bill paid,” Darrell McClam said. “It puts so much stress on families; I’ve seen so many families say, ‘How are we going to get NEW HAVEN REGISTER FILE PHOTO this done?’” That, of course, comes on top of The McClam Funeral Home in New Haven handles many funerals for the insurmountable grief of losing victims of violence. Twin brothers Darnell and Darrell McClam with their COPE PAGE 20 father Lethenial in the prep room.

portrait of Angelou. “It’s a very meticulous process,” said Colon, who is also working with the Under 91 Project, which bridges the space between the East Rock and Fair Haven communities with bright permanent murals. “In the beginning, folk were passing by asking, who is this?, but once I continued to work on it, they knew it was Maya,” he said. “As an artist, it makes you feel good that people can identify the work.” Angelou gained acclaim for her first book, her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” making her one of the first African-American women to write a best-seller. Angelou spoke several times in Connecticut, including at Quinnipiac University’s commencement in 1996, urging the graduates to be on the side of kindness and love, and to look inside themselves to find how to do that, according to a Register story. Through the art of graffiti, Jackson said, there is a style of projecting voices and bridging the

divide within the community. “To do a portrait like this and give it an inner-city feel is the balance. When the older generation sees it, they can relate and they won’t just see it as graffiti,” said Jackson. “I believe that everyone in the inner city has a voice and our art gives us our name; it’s self advertisement that no one else can give.” Bringing art to life is how Eric Anderson pictures the mural. “People are taking notice that this is an iconic figure that’s bringing positive messages to the hood,” said Anderson, 42, a barber at Handsome Cuts barber shop on Henry Street, a few doors down from the mural. “This is something uplifting, people are actually seeing the work get done versus someone just tagging the wall,” he said. “We need more of this in our community, sometimes it takes something bad to bring forth something good.” Hamden High School senior Nyashia Ortiz, 17, said the tribute to Angelou is a nice idea.


By Rich Scinto

“This will have a positive impact on the community versus seeing some random graffiti on the wall,” said Ortiz, who was walking by while the painting was taking place. “This is something inspirational for our community.” Longtime Newhallville resident Leroy Reddick, 60, said he normally sees guns, gang signs or images of blacks killing blacks on walls in his neighborhood. “When people drive through the community, they can stop and read it and get something out of it, said Reddick, as he referred to quotes by Angelou that are displayed on the mural. “We need something nice in this community for a change. When kids walk by, they’ll be able to see something better than all of the negative stuff that are on walls,” he said. Jackson said people deserve something dignified, and the art is an opportunity to clean up the community. “This area is a danger zone and unfortunately we have terrorists in the black community, but since

we’ve been out here the response has been amazing,” said Jackson. He said the artists paid for the painting supplies out of their own pocket. “We just asked for the space and a chance to prove that we could put something appealing on the property; we don’t need anymore eyesores in the community.” Reddick said that Rawas was shot and killed in front of the store and it won’t be forgotten. “The man died on these steps and because of his death, something beautiful is coming out of this, he said. “There is a message in this mural; death cannot defeat us.” Jackson and Colon are members of a coalition of graffiti artists called The Soul Brothers, who have been around since the late 1980s. The Soul Brothers are seeking additional locations and donations to do more positive artwork in the city. Contact Jackson at 203-6450301 for more information. Call Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim at 203-789-5614.





a loved one at a young age. “Sometimes I think some of our youths are blind to the fact,” he said. “They just see the end product, but they don’t go through the struggle to see (it).”Darrell McClam speaks from the experience of handling funeral after funeral for homicide victims. He has seen families that have lost multiple sons to violence and sometimes it will only be six months or a year between funerals.“I’ve seen where families have lost three or four sons, all to violence.” Gang life was far different in Lethenial McClam’s day in the 1950s. He and his mother moved from South Carolina to Philadelphia. He got involved in some street gangs until 1957, when the two moved to New Haven, because she “didn’t want to bury her son,” he said. “We just beat each other up,” he said. “Somebody got cut now and then ... but they got a little stomping.”He attributed the change from fistfights to guns to the shortage of fathers in the home. He said he got out of the gang life and into the church when he came to New Haven. Darnell McClam said he believes a lot of the violence happens because of shortsightedness. It’s often during the dark times that someone gets killed. “Children get stuck in the rut of saying, ‘The only thing I’m going to do is what I see around me,’” he said. Darrell McClam said it’s all about perseverance. He tells youth that if he could be successful with a learning disability, they could be, too. He recalled a time when he went to a homicide scene while working for the medical examiner’s office. A white cop said to him that young black men behave like animals and that he wouldn’t like to grow up in a city like them, Darrell McClam said. Apparently, the cop didn’t view him as a black man, he said.“It’s not what they say about us, it’s what we say about ourselves,” he said. “People can call us (expletive) ... but if we don’t display that, we don’t believe that within ourselves, it

doesn’t matter what they say, because we prove them different by the way we live.” “But when we don’t prove it different by the way we live and our actions, it makes what people think about us right,” he said. Self-worth should be valued more than any gripe in the street. Ultimately, the police won’t be able to stop all the homicides, nor can the mayor.“We have to go back to the family and stop it there,” he said. “Mothers and fathers have to go and take their families back.”


To Darrell McClam, dealing with human remains is both an art and a science. He talks about his work on bodies with a sense of pride in the way an artist would talk about a completed painting. He said he is honored every time a family entrusts him with the responsibility of taking care of the body. A shooting victim’s body oftentimes has suffered gruesome damage, he said. “It’s unbelievable, I mean really unbelievable, where you see someone who has gotten shot three or four times in the head,” he said. “You think, ‘What would make a person do something like this? … Could it have been that bad?’”One of his most difficult cases was a person that had been shot twice in the head, he said. “That case took me 36 hours,” he said. “I worked 18 hours straight at one time.” The chance for a viewing seemed slim, but the victim’s mother desperately wanted to see her son intact one last time, at least just for her own sense of closure. Darrell promised her he would make it happen. In the end, the family had a public viewing, he said. Things really hit home for the two brothers in 1991, when a friend of theirs was shot and killed. His family wanted them to take care of the body. “It was so hurtful even to where we were in tears at the funeral, but we were proud because the family wanted us,” Darnell McClam said. After that, the two decided they shouldn’t do funerals for close friends. Darrell McClam said his philosophy is to be upfront with families about the extent of

damage. He doesn’t attempt to impress them with fancy scientific terms because they do not care about the process of preparing a body. Many family members want to see the body before it is prepared in order to get some sort of closure. “When they walk in and see that it’s actually them,” he said. “It stuns the family but it brings them back to a place of closure.” Darrell McClam said he gets more pleasure out of helping families than making money. He said he understands that it’s hard to come up with money quickly for a funeral and that there is no point in selling a family a funeral they can’t afford. The funeral home also cuts people a break when it comes to restorative work on the body. Darnell McClam said the funeral home lists a $175 hourly rate for restorative work, but doesn’t charge it. That potentially shaves thousands of dollars off the bill when dealing with the body of a gunshot victim. “We’ve been born and raised here. ... We are sons of here,” Darrell McClam said.


The first step is to assess damage to see what work has to be done. “My mind is going at all times trying to make sure that I’m not only doing a great job for the family but doing a great job for the person that passed,” he said. His ultimate goal is to make the person seem as they did in life. “They remember him playing ... and then to see this and how it can end up,” he said. “I mean, it’s a complete tragedy.” Making a dead body seem lifelike and peaceful isn’t always easy. As does violence, motor vehicle accidents, especially motorcycle accidents, can also cause a lot of trauma to a body, Darrell McClam said.It’s now common practice in the funeral business to have families pay upfront for services, Darrell McClam said. Back in the late ’80s it was more common to pay part of the bill upfront and the rest later, but many funeral homes started to get burned.Nowadays, it might be nine or 10 days until a family comes up with the money for a funeral.




Co-Op High senior Ade Ben-Salahuddin will attend Yale University in the fall after carrying a 4.72GPA through high school.

Co-op senior ready to experience Elm City from Yale perspective By Rachel Chinapen

Ade Ben-Salahuddin grew up around the sound of gunshots in New Haven, but when given the chance to attend a number of Ivy League schools, he decided to stay. Ben-Salahuddin will attend Yale University this fall, turning down the likes of Princeton and Columbia in the process. A senior at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, Ben-Salahuddin has maintained a 4.72 grade point average throughout high school and is an active jazz trumpet player. He was accepted to Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Wesleyan, Yale, Tuskegee, Amherst College, Connecticut College and the University of Connecticut. “He’s my hero,” said Tariq BenSalahuddin, Ade Ben-Salahuddin’s father. Tariq said his son has managed NEW HAVEN >>

to always make the right decisions in a society where there are many opportunities for him to do the wrong thing. “Personally,” Abe said, “it’s always been me wanting to just learn more and always being driven and nurtured to explore different options and become immersed in a lot of different cultures, be as open to the world as possible, while still retaining a focus on: you have to educate yourself.” A Wesleyan graduate, Tariq Ben-Salahuddin said he and his wife have been in competition to see which school Ade Ben-Salahuddin would attend. His wife is a Yale graduate. While Wesleyan’s acceptance letter arrived first, Tariq BenSalahuddin said he knew the game was over once the letter from Yale arrived. Abe Ben-Salahuddin said when he began exploring colleges, he CO-OP






| Celebrating Black History Month


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Students inspired by local African-American history maker At the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology, the art room was full of New Haven high school students who stood and pledged to commit to finding excellence through their education. Students had just finished learning about and listening to Marcus McCraven, an AfricanAmerican who worked on the first hydrogen bomb. Most had come as a part of their physics class to learn about this leader in science, but what they found was more than a history lesson. “It is so important that the world, especially young students of color, see what can happen or who you can become by virtue of committing to education,” Erik Clemons, executive director and president of the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT) said. Students from James Hillhouse, Hill Regional Career and Co-op Arts and Humanities high schools had gathered to listen to McCraven as a

rican-Americans. Clemons said the theme of the program this year was to commit to education. Teachers and students gathered in the art room at ConnCAT and watched a documentary about McCraven, “No Barriers

munity among Yale students.” As a city student, Ben-Salahuddin said he frequented downtown cafes with friends and noticed there was a lot to do, but only if you were college-aged. The fact that there was less to do for younger students initially was “off-putting” for Ben-Salahuddin. “I actually couldn’t really picture myself staying here for another four years,” he said. “I said I was going to drive myself insane at some point.” But after getting a taste of what the city feels like for a Yale student, and how inspired and inspiring the students are, Ben-Salahuddin’s perspective changed. “A lot of people who go to the school are really passionate about what they want to learn and are trying to learn a lot of things at the same time, and are very active in the community,” he said. “A lot of really driven people, and I like to be around that sort of crowd because it pushes everybody to-

ward their ultimate goals, whatever those might be.” And in good company he’ll be. Kwasi Enin, a Long Island teenager who was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools, also will be attending Yale this fall. Ben-Salahuddin said he ran into Enin during a visit to Princeton and looks forward to having him as a colleague. For youths coming behind him, Ben-Salahuddin offered a lesson on “self-worth” and suggested finding something positive for oneself and the community. “Reject what the media perception of you is; if you continue to count that as a factor in how you judge and how you value yourself, then you’re not going to succeed in any substantial way,” he said. It’s important to find something that’s both positive for you and for the community, and “to be role models for the generations that come after you,” he said. As for the high school experi-

ence in New Haven, Ben-Salahuddin said it is what you make of it. “The school system in general, the resources are there. As to how efficiently they’re being used, I cannot really say,” he said. “I would stress to both parties, teachers and students, to really embrace the moment, seize every learning moment that you have,” he said. Since 2010, the district’s dropout rate has fallen from 27.3 percent to 20.7 percent and the fouryear graduation rate has increased from 62.5 percent to 71.4 percent. Also, the percentage of students enrolled in their first year of college has increased by 2 percentage points from 62 percent in 2010 to 64 percent in 2012. Only about half of the district’s graduates make it to the second year of college. Ben-Salahuddin said there are a lot of resources and programs for students in the city but many are confined to specific schools. Ide-


Co-op FROM PAGE 20

looked for a school that would allow him to pursue both music and biology. He said many of the Ivy Leagues presented themselves as “very strong candidates,” and that he considers the schools the “pinnacles of formal education.” The senior visited Princeton and UConn before being won over by Yale’s Bulldog Days program in April — a three-day program offered to admitted Yale students to provide a sense of what it’s like to be a “Yalie.” The program pairs potential students with a student host and includes tours, meetings with undergraduate organizations and free time to explore downtown. “It was just a really fun experience seeing New Haven from the perspective of a college student,” Ben-Salahuddin said. “Bulldog drove home that sense of com-


Marcus McCraven of Hamden, who worked on the first hydrogen bomb, speaks with students Friday at The Connecticut Center for Art and Technology in New Haven as part of a HistoryMakers program.

story and making him a part of their oral history project. “He is an absolute treasure to the community,” Highsmith said. “I think his story is fascinating, and as we look at the focus on STEM, McCraven is a role model for excelling at this field years ago when not many African-Americans were a part of STEM at all.” McCraven, now 90 and living in Hamden, earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Howard University. McCraven went on to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he designed the digital system for gathering data during nuclear tests. McCraven was a part of the team that armed the first hydrogen bomb and conducted the first test in Bikini Atoll.McCraven was a senior vice president at United Illuminating before becoming a member of the Quinnipiac University board of trustees. McCraven’s story now is a part of the HistoryMakers archive, which Highsmith said is one of the most extensive oral history libraries of its kind. HistoryMakers sent 500

ally, he said, he would like to see more citywide programs for youth. Ben-Salahuddin listed Nelson Mandela and South African trumpet player Hugh Masekela as role models because of their activism, and said his passion for science came from no particular scientist, but from the nature of the topic itself. While he is unsure of his exact focus of study, his eyes are set on evolutionary studies or possibly biomedical engineering. As for whether or not Ben-Salahuddin will remain in New Haven post-college graduation, the aspiring researcher said it’s likely he will, but not forever. “I’ve said to myself, well if you’ve made the commitment so far, and you’re already at Yale; Yale is one of the best research institutions in the country, if not the entire world so you shouldn’t close yourself off to it,” he said. “If opportunities do arise, I will certainly at least be open to it, though I would at some point want to expand beyond New Haven.”



part of the fourth annual Back to School with the HistoryMakers program. HistoryMakers is an oral history project based in Chicago, started in 1999 by Julieanna L. Richardson to document and preserve the lives of thousands of Af-

Too High,” produced in 2009 by Carlton Highsmith, chairman of the board at ConnCAT, and the Quinnipiac University School of Communications. Later, students questioned McCraven about his life and his struggles, as well as how his education affected his future. He said the United States needs more black students to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM. “As the country prioritizes STEM, we don’t see a lot of African-American kids in urban educational districts doing really well, engaged in STEM in a big way,” Clemons said. “Here you have a man who was a STEM star, if you will, back in the early to mid-1900s, before STEM was even prioritized or labeled.” Highsmith said McCraven was chosen to be a part of the HistoryMakers program after the organization heard about the documentary. After viewing it, Highsmith said they were fascinated by McCraven. He was asked if the HistoryMakers program could spend a day with him, documenting his

By Charlotte Adinolfi








Black History Museum ties past to present for black Americans It was on a West Africa shoreline where Ron Bailey had his midlife crisis. He stood on the coast, where his ancestors last saw their homeland prior to being shackled and shipped west to be enslaved, and convulsed into tears. “To be reconnected to the soil,” Bailey told a crowd of roughly 50 in attendance Monday afternoon at the Rotary Club of Gettysburg’s meeting at the Gettysburg Hotel. “It gave me a deep sense of home.” Bailey, just a couple weeks shy of turning 60, has lived in Adams County with his wife for six years, and after those six years, is ready to begin to present a project that he sees as much bigger than him. The Gettysburg Black History Museum will be opening its doors this year (on) Baltimore Street, an arm’s length from J’s at the Village. It is a project that will entail artifacts and physical objects, of course, but what Bailey is more excited about is the stories being told about what he referred to as “a city that so commonly attracts the eyes of the world.” Having grown up in southern Virginia in what could be described as a scene out of “Remember the Titans,” Bailey did not meet a white person until he was 16. He lived through the integration of the 1960s, feeling void of the “Old Country” mentality that many other nationalities have. “We didn’t have a sense of that,” said Bailey, President and CEO of the Gettysburg Black HisGETTYSBURG, PA. >>

History FROM PAGE 21

African-Americans to schools Friday to get students to commit to their education.“What is special about today is 500 people are simultaneously going into schools, high schools, elementary schools, getting students recommitted to completing their education,” Highsmith said.In past years, Clemons

tory Museum. “We were referred to by a lot of different names and my grandmother didn’t like some of the newer ones. My birth certificate says I’m ‘colored,’ but that was a while ago. We used AfricanAmerican for our identity.” He said the museum is an ongoing project, and while Monday’s announcement may be “big news,” there will be more to come. Bailey wants to tell stories of Gettysburg’s black past. Stories that have seldom been told. Some have maybe never been told at all. Others have likely been swept under the rug, put on a shelf or fallen on deaf ears. Stories like that of John Hopkins, a beloved, black janitor who was hired by Gettysburg College for $15 per month. He was one of the last janitors that maintained the small, liberal arts school without the help of a staff. It was just him sweeping the halls of Pennsylvania Hall and mowing the lawn around the campus. According to Charles H. Glatfelter’s “A Salutary Influence: Gettysburg College, 1832-1985,” Hopkins was referred to as “Jack the Janitor” as well as the vice president of the college after he returned to Gettysburg following the 1863 battle between Union and Confederate troops. Hopkins, who lived on South Washington Street and rang the college’s bell, died when he was 62. He was so widely liked and revered on campus in his time that the entire school’s student body and faculty attended his funeral service. Stories like Hopkins’ will cer-

said, the program has focused on African-Americans such as Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young and President Barack Obama, among others.“We want the students to become motivated,” Highsmith said. “We want them to become recommitted to staying in school and academically excelling.” McCraven said he was very happy to be given the opportunity to talk to New Haven high school students.“It is important to encourage all students to stay in

tainly be told by the Gettysburg Black History Museum, but also stories of Mag Palm, who was attacked by slave catchers as she was leaving work on Baltimore Street, just south of Lincoln Square. Her hands were tied and bound. However, as the story goes, she bit off a man’s thumb in the process of trying to avoid being placed in a carriage and taken as a slave. But make no mistake, the stories are far from exclusive to blacks and Bailey will not be telling these and many more stories by himself. It would be too massive an undertaking for one modest man who has intentionally avoided the spotlight. “I’m not a historian,” Bailey said. “I’m more into marketing and communication.” His organization, a certified 501(c)(3) consisting of a ninemember board, will open its visitors center at the 700-squarefoot building at the Old Gettysburg Village by the end of this year. Guided tours will start this year as well. From there, the sky seems to be the limit. Sure, there will be artifacts,

but what Bailey is more excited about is the historians, speakers and writers who will tell the stories. The concept is more of a living history museum than that of a written and glassed-in exhibit. “It will be a different dimension of the presentation of Gettysburg and that’s what we’re interested in,” said Dr. Michael Birkner, professor of history at Gettysburg College. “We welcome a more inclusive approach to the interpretation of Gettysburg’s past. (Black history) is something that was a big part from the beginning but has been largely invisible.” Birkner, also a Gettysburg Borough councilman representing the town’s 1st Ward, said that while the July 1-3, 1863, Battle of Gettysburg made the town unsafe for blacks at the time, there is a lot more to the history of blacks in this small town that will better portray various experiences of blacks in the community. “It will make for a better historical picture,” Birkner said. Mary Alice Nutter, vice president of the Gettysburg Black History Museum and cofounder of the project, said it was a calling that she and her two sisters received from her mother, Margaret Nutter, years ago. “She would always tell me and my sisters, ‘Lookie here, you all. You need to do something about this black history in this Gettysburg area.’ Having this museum in Gettysburg is going to (help) finally tell the untold story of the black population over the years. We’re going to tell our own story because it’s never been told

before by us, we of color.” Nu t t e r, a 6 6 - y e a r - o l d Gettysburg native, said the museum’s goal is to bring unity and understanding to Adams County, an area that still has prejudices to overcome. “This is meant for everyone,” she said. “This is to help perpetuate the notion that we’re each others’ keepers. It will be very meaningful and hopefully a tribute to mankind.” And while mankind may marvel at what is ultimately created from the humble beginnings of a 700square-foot visitors center and some tour guides and artifacts, Bailey intends for his museum to help spur the economic viability of Gettysburg and Adams County. “ We ’ r e d e s i g n i n g t h i s purposefully with things that require people to stay overnight here,” Bailey said. “We have buildings, hotels and restaurants (to fill).” G e t t y s b u r g C onv e nt i o n and Visitors Bureau President Norris Flowers predicted that the Gettysburg Black History Museum and the tours the museum plans to host will be a great asset to Gettysburg and Adams County, especially at a time when visitation to the area is expected to spike in anticipation of the American Civil War battle’s 150th anniversary in 2013. The Gettysburg CVB is working on regionalized marketing strategies with the museum in its printed guides and on its website. “Visitors are always looking for new ways to experience

school, to go to college,” McCraven said. “This program shows all students they must be prepared, and HistoryMakers particularly shows African-American students what they can accomplish in the medical and science field.”Shareen Corbett, a Co-op High senior, found the program “very encouraging.” “Marcus went through a lot to get to where he is and it shows us that no matter what we go through, we can get through it,” Corbett said. Career High senior

Angelique Boyd said she was inspired by McCraven’s drive.“He wanted to go to college but got drafted into the war but this was not a barrier for him,” Boyd said. “He went anyway afterwards, and I know a lot of people who would have let something like that stop them from going to college.” Karen Beitler, a science teacher at Hillhouse, said she tries to tell her students no barrier is too high.“I don’t know if they listen, but I always tell them, ‘It is

about you,’” Beitler said. Beitler took a copy of the documentary and hopes to hold an assembly at Hillhouse so all the students can learn McCraven’s story. “Things like this make it real for students,” Beitler said. “They had real lives, they are here and not in some picture on a movie screen.”Jeremey Lombard, a senior at Co-op, said Friday’s event left him inspired. “His determination helps push me towards my own goals,” Lombard said.



The Associated Press




| Celebrating Black History Month


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ConnCAT’s CEO Erik Clemons is Register’s ‘Person of the Year’ NEW HAVEN >> In spring 2011 when

Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology founder Carlton L. Highsmith was searching for a president and executive director for the center, he met Erik Clemons. “I quickly became impressed with Erik’s honesty and his genuine concern for helping others,” said Highsmith, who also is the founder of the Specialized Packaging Group based in Hamden. “We could not have made a better selection to lead ConnCAT. Erik is a talented leader and consensus builder,” he said. During the initial interview with Clemons, Highsmith asked him to explain his core values. Highsmith said Clemons response will always resonate with him. “He said his core values were absolute integrity. An absolute belief that everyone has the potential to be great, compassion for all and a belief that with a vision and hard work, everyone is capable of transforming their lives, no matter their situation,” said Highsmith. According to Highsmith, Clemons then pointed to his compelling personal narrative as the source of those values. The Register chose Clemons as its 2014 Person of the Year. But life for Clemons hadn’t been all crystal stairs. “I was raised by the community,” said Clemons, 48, who grew up in a housing project in Norwalk until he was 12. The family moved to Stamford

Museum FROM PAGE 22

Gettysburg and the history here,” Flowers said. “This museum takes our history from a completely different perspective and we believe the visitors will have great interest. The timing of the


Erik Clemons, CEO of the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology, is photographed at the center’s phlebotomy class at Science Park in New Haven in 2013. and his mother was left to care for him as well as his brother and sister. “After high school, I was ill-prepared to go to college, went for a semester, ended up not doing well and found a job instead,” he said. He worked as a postal worker in the Stamford Post Office for 16 year before becoming the executive director of ConnCAT. While a postal worker, he got married to his wife, Sharon, and now is the father of four girls. “Around the 12th year, I said to myself, what have I done, what was my contribution, what have I done for other people?” said Clemons, who decided to go back to

college and complete a degree in sociology. ConnCAT was established later, drawing on local talent and with a deep commitment to community. The center officially opened June 2012 at 4 Science Park as a site where New Haven residents could enroll in two adult education programs focusing either on medical coding skills or phlebotomy. An after-school program was developed, which provides youth a creative outlet whether they were interested in theater, spoken-word art, hip hop dancing, recording music or a host of other opportunities. ConnCAT is modeled after the

philosophy of Bill Strickland, who built and started the national model for Center for Arts and Technology known as the Bidwell Training and Manchester Craftsman Guild in Pittsburgh more than 40 years ago. For Clemons, opening the doors here had its challenges and points of contention. “My first challenge was getting the physical space built on time and on budget. I knew how to run an organization, but to go from idea to tangible reality was new territory for me,” said Clemons, referring to his leadership experiences in his three year-tenure as executive director of Leadership

museum and tours is great. Many of the visitors will be looking for additional attractions here and ways to learn more about the history. It’s a great opportunity for any business to showcase their product to more people during this anniversary.” Dwight Thompson, a 61-yearold, African-American Gettysburg resident who works at the Gettys-

burg Hotel, sees the museum as an opportunity to bring out the black history of Gettsyburg. “A lot of people don’t know what blacks did in the area (during the 1800s),” Thompson said. “It’s very interesting.” Thompson, a native of Harlem in New York City, admitted that while he has lived in Gettysburg for eight years, there is still a lot

he does not know about the area’s black history, but that he would like to somehow play a part in the museum and its story-telling. Bailey wants the project done right, as he mentioned the importance of the museum’s presentation being done in what he referred to as a first class manner. “With living history, tours, advanced technology and an artistic

Education Athletics and Partnerships. LEAP . Surprising to Clemons, skepticism from residents was his biggest hurdle in launching ConnCAT. “The adult students, youth, as well as the communities we sought to serve were extremely skeptical about our intention,” said Clemons. “It took time to convince them that ConnCAT was built specifically to address their needs; that excellence, opportunity, purpose, hope, and love are the genuine places from which we work,” he said. Clemons noted the organization also “had a difficult time with adult male students, specifically African American men completing our job-training programs,” Clemons said he and his staff came to the conclusion that the center’s medical programs were a bit gender-based and decided to undertake a new project. A culinary-arts program is expected to launch September 2015. “This was part of the logic for developing and implementing our soon-to-come culinary program,” he said. “Our culinary program will allow us to address the re-entry population, which was also a challenge for us because of our adult program focus,” he said. Re-entry refers to the transition of offenders from prisons or jails back into the community, According to ConnCAT officials, the center last year served 103 youths in fourth- through eleventh-grade in their yearround program, and 46 adult learners enrolled in the phlebotomy and medical coding job CLEMONS


By Shahid Abdul-Karim [email protected] @Shahid_Akarim on Twitter


approach, the presentations will be done as well as possible,” Bailey said, adding that the time is now for this venture to take flight. “We needed to get this off Breckenridge Street and South Washington Street. History is about what happened. We need to tell about it.” Originally published February 10, 2012.







Artifacts show a civil rights leader steeped in freedom struggle from childhood By Michael E. Ruane The Washington Post

When Rosa Parks was a little girl in rural Alabama, she would stay up at night, keeping watch with her grandfather as he stood guard with a shotgun against marauding members of the Ku Klux Klan. Klansmen often terrorized black communities in the early 1900s, and Parks’s grandfather, Sylvester Edwards, the son of a white plantation owner, had their house boarded up for protection. But Parks longed for a showdown. “I wanted to see him kill a KuKluxer,” the renowned civil rights leader wrote in a brief biographical sketch years later. “He deTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS clared that the first to invade our In this 2001file photo, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks holds the hand of home would surely die.” a well-wisher at a ceremony honoring the 46th anniversary of her arrest They sounded like hard words for civil disobedience, at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. for the small, bespectacled woman

Clemons FROM PAGE 23

training programs. Ninety-eight percent of the adult students went on to complete offsite “externships,” which provided hands-on experience in their respective field, according to staff. Seventy-three percent of the graduates are now employed, according to Clemons. Tremain Bravo, 34, who graduated from the phlebotomist program and now works at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said he is blessed to have Clemons as a mentor. “Mr. Clemons has helped me out tremendously in my new career and employment as a phlebotomist at Yale-New Haven Hospital,” said Bravo, who has known Clemons for more than two years. “I’m very grateful and fortunate to have a man of his stature in my corner. Mr. Clemons has been able to help me break down barriers that I endured trying to gain employment,” he said. “He is the prime example of a great leader in the black community.” Senior Vice President of Human

Resources for Yale-New Haven Hospital Kevin Myatt said ConnCAT has the potential of being the premier nonprofit in New Haven. “I really formed a relationship with Erik when we flew to Pittsburg to meet with Bill Strickland and walk the campus of his facility,” said Myatt, who has known Clemons over the past three years. “He has the ability to distance his ego from the process and be more concerned about the constituents, particularly the youth.” Myatt said with the development of the culinary arts program, the partnership with Yale New Haven Hospital and ConnCAT looks promising. “As we increase the culinary arts program there will be opportunities for us to partner with the hospital within our system, as well as our providers,” Myatt said. Earlier this year, the organization took on another project when it partnered with Lincoln-Basset School in Newhallville. Lincoln-Bassett was added this year to the state Commissioner’s Network for underperforming schools, joining the city’s High School in the Community and Wilbur Cross High School. The network seeks to significantly im-

prove struggling schools through collaboration between local stakeholders and the state Department of Education. The school was audited in four areas: talent, academics, culture and climate and operations. The school ranked “developing” or “below standard” in most areas, “proficient” and “exemplary” in none, according to the state Education Department. The audit noted a divide among staff, chronic absenteeism among students and lack of basic resources, such as projectors and white boards. The school received $1.4 million in operating and capital improvement grants and secured partnership with ConnCAT to facilitate the before- and afterschool programs. The after-school program officially started Oct. 6. Classes offered include: fine arts; music, with emphasis on band and strings; digital arts/ media; athletics and science lab. Despite public criticism, Clemons was determined to hire from within the community. More than 90 percent of Clemons’ staff is African American, which he describes as courageous and a strategic step for the suc-

who is most famous for refusing to give up her seat to whites on an Alabama bus in 1955. But a cache of Parks’s papers set to be unveiled on Tuesday at the Library of Congress portrays a battle-tested activist who had been steeped in the struggle against white violence since childhood. The trove, parts of which were unknown to historians, also shows Parks as a woman devoted to her family, especially to her mother and husband, Raymond, for whom she kept her hair in long braids even after he died. The material is part of the collection of Parks’ belongings that was purchased by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation in August and deposited with the library in September on a 10-year loan, the library said. Parks died in Detroit in 2005 at the age of 92, famous for a solitary

act of defiance that helped launch the modern civil rights movement and etched her name in the annals of history. The material opens to researchers on Wednesday, Parks’s birthday, and a small section of it will be on display in the Library’s Jefferson Building from March 2 to March 30. Other parts will join the library’s civil rights exhibit, which runs through Sept. 12. The artifacts displayed at a press preview last week included Parks’s tiny Bible, a snapshot of the Tuskegee, Alabama, house where she was born in 1913, and letters to her mother, Leona, and her husband. “Parks, my dear husband,” she wrote him in 1957, while she was working in Virginia and he was home in Alabama. “I miss you so very much and wish you were

cess of the organization. “It was extremely important to me that I hire people who have a cultural competence and cultural sensitivity to the people and communities we would serve,” said Clemons. “Like myself, every member of the ConnCAT team is educated, skilled, and has a life story of perseverance and triumph,” he said. “I thought this would allow us to work from a powerful sense of empathy and intuition, while also being shining examples of success for those we serve.” Clemons believes more courageous discussions and solutions regarding the plight of black youth should be a priority. “I approach this issue from a ‘how can I use my blessings to help?’ I think we start with folks like myself, who have experienced some success, and were able to escape the clutch of marginalization,” said Clemons. “We have to be courageous enough to render ourselves vulnerable to the emotional and social needs of the people, specifically black boys and men,” he said. “Service provisions, programs, education are not enough. I was able to make it because I met men who

looked like me and who were living a life I dreamed about.” Clemons noted that personal engagement is a powerful tool for justice. William Graustein, 69, a retired geologist and founder and co-leader of the Community Leadership Program, said he has known Clemons for 10 years, starting when he was executive director of LEAP. “Erik took part in the Community Leadership Program several years ago and is now one of its leaders. He embodies what CLP tries to support,” Graustein said. Graustein said Clemons approaches his work with an attitude of love, helping people become their best selves. “He has a gift for seeing people’s talents and potential and then working with them to accomplish things they did not think they were capable of,” said Graustein. Through the spirit of resilience, Clemons said ConnCAT is not just about programs, “It’s also about people. It is where everyone has an opportunity to be great.”


Call Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul-Karim 203 680-9343.



| Celebrating Black History Month

| 25



Haynes’ work linked religion, freedom


here.” During an earlier absence, in 1956, her mother wrote her that she was fine, “but Parks is about as usual when you are away.” There are little-known photos of her husband, who was also an activist and who quietly supported her and weathered death threats as she traveled the country. One shot of him is a walletsized photo she cropped to carry around with her. There are other photos — of her father, who deserted the family when she was a toddler, and of several unidentified people. One is an old postmortem photo of an elderly man in a coffin. And there are pages and pages of writing that record her thoughts about the plight of African Americans, bits of her biography and prayers. She wrote on anything she could find: the back of a utility company envelope, the back of a civic program, the front and back of a church program, pages torn from a notebook, the stationery of a department store that fired her. “These were the things she was not able to part with,” said Maricia Battle, a curator of photography at the library. “These are the things that were most dear to her.” “It’s family,” Battle said. “It’s her husband.” She never remarried after he died in 1977. They had no children. “Raymond was the love of her life,” Battle said. “You can just see it when you go through and look at the images here. It’s just wonderful.” Battle said she had never seen a picture of Raymond Parks before. Along with the wallet photo, the collection includes an image of the couple sitting together at an NAACP dinner in the early 1950s. Much of material dates from the time before Rosa Parks became famous. One fragment, perhaps a draft of a letter, is written on the stationery of Montgomery Fair, the department store where she had worked. She speaks of the 1955 murder of the black teenager Emmett Till,


By Register Citizen Staff


A photograph of Rosa Parks circa the 1950s and a paper written by Parks about segregation are some of the items in the Rosa Parks archive, seen during a media preview Jan. 29at the Library of Congress, Madison Building, in Washington. who was killed in Mississippi after allegedly flirting with a white woman. “This case could be multiplied many times in the South,” she wrote in pencil. “In my lifetime I have known Negroes who were killed by whites, without any arrests or investigations. ... It is the custom to keep such things covered up.” The collection also illustrates the financial impact of her bus action. “She loses her job,” said Margaret McAleer, senior archives specialist. “Her husband loses his job. They were poor, working class to begin with. They descend into deep, deep poverty.” Another intriguing fragment is the brief undated biographical sketch, written on a few pages torn from a notebook. In it, she tells of the Klan menace in her rural community of Pine Level, Alabama. “KKK moved through the country, burning negro churches, schools, flogging and killing,”

she wrote. Her grandfather, who was tall, thin and “very caucasian in appearance,” had long white hair that she loved to comb. “He would stay up to wait for (the Klansmen) to come to our house,” she wrote. “He kept his shotgun within hand reach at all times. ... The doors and windows were boarded and nailed tight from the inside. I stayed awake nights keeping vigil with grandpa.” Adrienne Cannon, an African American history and culture specialist at the library, said parts of the handwritten sketch do not appear in her published autobiography, “Rosa Parks: My Story.” The book is Parks’s “public image,” Cannon said. The sketch is “Rosa with her hair down,” she said. “She’s 6 years old ... waiting for grandpa to kill a Ku-Kluxer. This is the real deal. This tells you how she had the strength and determination to do what she did.” Parks became famous on Dec. 1, 1955, when she boarded a pub-

lic bus in Montgomery on her way home from work and refused to move from a seat to allow whites to sit. What followed was the historic 380-day black boycott of Montgomery buses, a U.S. Supreme Court decision desegregating the city’s public transportation, and the modern civil rights movement. But Parks, in a way, was trapped by history — “frozen in the bus seat,” Battle said. She was the heroic, fed-up seamstress. “It seemed like her life started and stopped with the bus,” Battle said. But that was not the case. “She didn’t stop there,” Battle said. “She continued. She worked with organizations. She started her own institute to honor her late husband. She worked with kids all over the world.” “People are more than that one little thing that you often think of them,” she said. The collection shows “the breadth of who she really was.”

According to research found on Fold3.com, a web collection of military records on African-American patriots of the Revolutionary War, Lemuel Haynes was the first African American ordained by a mainstream Protestant Church in the United States. Haynes, the abandoned child of an African father and “a white woman of respectable ancestry,” was born in 1753 in West Hartford. Five months later, he became an indentured servant until the age of 21. With only a rudimentary formal education, Haynes developed a passion for books, especially the Bible and books on theology. As a young man, he frequently conducted services at the town parish, sometimes reading his own sermons. In 1774, when his indenture ended, Haynes enlisted as a “Minuteman” in the local militia. While serving in the militia, he wrote a lengthy balladsermon about the April 1775 Battle of Lexington. Although the poem emphasized the conflict between slavery and freedom, it did not directly address black slavery. After the war, Haynes turned down the opportunity to study at Dartmouth College, instead choosing to study Latin and Greek with clergymen in Connecticut. In 1780, he was licensed to preach. He accepted a position with a white congregation in Middle Granville and later married a young white schooltea cher, Elizabeth Babbitt. In 1785, Haynes was officially ordained as a PIONEERS » PAGE 26







Middletown students learn about black history By Michael T. Lyle Jr MIDDLETOWN >> Ray Townes

is a person of whom much of the faculty and staff members at Keigwin Middle School speak highly. Not only has Townes served in the town’s public school system as a custodian for several years, he spends a portion of his time creating a collage with images of famous AfricanAmerican figures who have contributed to America’s history just in time to celebrate Black History Month. Townes has recognized those famous icons for 20 years around the two-level 6th grade institution, which has some calling the longtime resident a walking encyclopedia full of AfricanAmerican history. “I’ve been called worse than that,” Townes said jokingly. On the lower level of the facility, guests are greeted by the presence of a traffic signal sitting near the entrance. The signal, which was created and patented by Garrett Morgan in 1923, is what Townes said gave him the notion to learn


Longtime Middletown resident Ray Townes stands next to his collection of famous African-American figures that are currently on display at Keigwin Middle School. more about African-American history during his early years at an all-AfricanAmerican boarding school in New Jersey. “They taught me that we did more than just pick cotton in those days,” said Townes. During a walk around the school on Wednesday,

Pioneers FROM PAGE 25

congregational minister. Haynes held three pastorships after his ordination. The first was with an all-white congregation in Torrington, where he left after two years due to the active prejudice of several members. His second call to the pulpit, from a mostly white church in Rutland, Vermont, that had a few “poor Africans,” lasted for 30 years. During that time, Haynes developed an international reputation as a preacher and writer.

Townes pointed out several different highlights of African-American achievements, including those who have excelled in the political arena and in athletics. One section features several African-American players that represented several National Hockey League

teams, including former Hartford Whalers’ right winger Ray Neufeld, who played for the franchise in the early 1980’s. The second level showcases articles about the Underground Railroad, about the Tuskegee Airmen, the struggle for Civil Rights

In 1804, he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Middlebury College, the first ever given to an African American. In 1801, he published a tract, “The Nature and Importance of True Republicanism,” which contained his only public statement on the subject of race or slavery. A project by the Public Broadcast Service produced by WGBH Boston, called “Africans in America,” dedicated a segment to Haynes. In its Portrait of Lemuel Haynes, it described him as a lifePHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA long admirer of George Washington and an ardent Federalist. Lemuel Haynes Also according to biographical essay on Haynes by WGBH, congregation in 1818, allegedly Haynes had conflicts with his over politics and style. This led to

not just in one month.” Assistant Principal Shauna Attram said she is appreciative of the efforts Townes puts forth in allowing the students to learn more about Black History each and every year, especially when changes take place. “He’s a gem to Middletown and to our school,” said Attram. “It’s a blessing to have (Townes) putting in numerous hours to help educate our students and sharing this important information with them. It comes off as a little museum during the month, and we’re happy that he’s leading the charge.” Townes said he has no plans of slowing down his task in making sure the students are getting a Black History lesson they will not forget – even it if means making some additions to his collection. “I’ll do it until I can’t do it anymore,” said Townes. “Whenever I get a chance and I feel I have to add something, I’ll do it so they can get the learning experience they need.”

during the 1960’s and the history of African-Americans who made contributions to the state and in the town. “I’m trying to get Black History put in the books with history period,” said Townes. “To me, Black His- Originally published tory is celebrated all year, on February 26, 2014.

him leaving and there was some speculation that the church’s displeasure with Haynes stemmed from racism. His last appointment was in Manchester, Vermont, where he counseled two men convicted of murder; they narrowly escaped hanging when the alleged “victim” reappeared. Haynes’s writings on the seven-year ordeal became a bestseller for a decade. He developed an international reputation as a preacher and writer, arguing on moral grounds for an immediate end to slavery in opposition to proponents of gradual emancipation, and articulated a vision of an America without slavery.

For the last eleven years of his life, Haynes ministered to a congregation in upstate New York. He died in 1833, at the age of 80. Nearly 150 years after his death, a manuscript written by Haynes around 1776 was discovered, in which he boldly stated “That an African ... has an undeniable right to his Liberty.” The treatise went on to condemn slavery as sin, and pointed out the irony of slave owners fighting for their own liberty while denying it to others. Haynes’s writings are regarded as the fullest record of a black man’s religion, social thought, and opposition to slavery in the late 18th and early 19th century.



| Celebrating Black History Month


| 27


African-American golf pioneer Torrington dance troupe tells story By Esteban L. Hernandez [email protected] @EstebanHRZ on Twitter

Telling the story of how someone’s biggest passion came to be isn’t easy, but Torrington’s shadow dance troupe felt up to the task. So when Kent resident Adam Battelstein, director and choreographer of Catapult Entertainment, a shadow dancing group that rehearses in Torrington, received a call in October about sharing how one man’s passion for golf led him to be a pioneer in the sport in Connecticut, he jumped to the opporTORRINGTON »

tunity. The call had come from Back9Network, a golf lifestyle cable network based in downtown Hartford. The network wanted to celebrate the story of one its board members, Sanford “Sandy” Cloud Jr., who was the first African-American to join a greater Hartford area golf club in 1979 when he joined The Country Club of Farmington. Catapult used Cloud’s story and those just like his to create “Inspire 2 Aspire” a three-minute video showing how a child develops a passion for golfing. The cable network released the video in celebration of Black History Month.

Cloud said he had not seen shadow dancing before he saw the short video. “I was moved by the video. I was move by the creativeness of Catapult,” Cloud said. The video was shot entirely in one day at the Warner Theatre, with a week of rehearsal before the video was shot. Despite their rehearsal studio being on nearby Water Street, Battelstein said it was the first time the group performed at the Warner. “I loved it; it was beautiful,” Battelstein said. “They are very helpful and friendly there.” Battelstein said he first heard of the idea in September, about a week after the group ended their stay on “America’s Got Talent”.

“ T hey were ta lk ing about golf as a gateway from poverty and disadvantage to a different type of life,” Battelstein said. “It was probably our very first project they started working on after ‘America’s Got Talent’,” Ba ck 9Ne t work C E O James L. Bosworth Jr. said the video is an example of the network’s goal of, “growing the game of golf through the inclusion of all people.” After watching Catapult compete in the televised competition show, Bosworth got the idea to have Cloud story told in a similar fashion. He said he’s know Cloud for about three years. “The shadow dance art is so unique,” Bosworth said. “We wanted to tell a


A screenshot of Back9Network’s “Inspire 2Aspire” video, featuring Torrington’s Catapult Entertainment. story that a lot of people could relate to.” Cloud, a former state senator, said he always tried to break down barriers, as he was also the first African-American partner in a major law firm in Hartford. “For golf to become

more and more popular, we need to reach out to people who may not have been exposed to golf,” Cloud said. “We need to reach out to all sorts of diverse communities.” Originally published Feb. 17, 2014.


Slavery was woven into Connecticut’s fabric Book includes story of Middletown captain

and sickened by the Ten years ago, matter-of-fact noHartford Courant tations in the logreporter Anne Farbook: “This 24 row, acting on a tip hours died three from a friend, sat small slaves with down at the Conthe Flux.” (“The necticut State LiRandall Flux” was dysenbrary and began Beach tery; “small slaves” reading three logwere children.) Farbooks from ships row later determined that sailed out of New the logbook was writLondon in the mid-1700s. The first ship was called ten by Dudley Saltonstall, the 18-year-old son of the the Africa. It was aptly ship’s owner, Gurdon, depnamed. The crew was bound for uty (mayor) of New London. West Africa to buy slaves What Farrow had disand then sell them on Engcovered, long hidden away land’s colonial islands in in the library’s archives, the Caribbean. Some of the “human cargo” proba- was documented evidence of Connecticut’s deep ties bly stayed on board to be to the profitable slave brought to Connecticut, trade. where they were sold and “This has been taking owned by residents here. Farrow was astonished up space in my soul since

2004,” Farrow told a small group of us last Thursday night during a talk at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison. Farrow was there to promote her new book, “The Logbooks: Connecticut’s Slave Ships and Human Memory” (Wesleyan University Press). It’s a hard sell. There were just six of us there, including Farrow’s husband, Stephen Taylor. She said when she did a reading at the University of Connecticut, four people attended. The brutality of slavery and its pervasiveness in Connecticut is a dark, deeply troubling subject. It’s not something people want to hear about in “the Nutmeg State.” We like to delude ourselves into thinking slavery was “a



The book’s cover photo shows the jetty at Bence Island, a fortress in Sierra Leone where slaves were held. Southern thing.” “Slavery is rarely taught in schools, and our un-

derstanding of its scope is barely rudimentary,” Farrow wrote in the book. She noted that a few years ago, when she began giving talks about the Courant’s project on Northern complicity with the slave trade, people kept asking her: “Why don’t we know about this?”

Dennis Culliton, who teaches history at Adams Middle School in Guilford and was among our little group at R.J. Julia, told us that when he was a student, he was taught: “We (Northerners) were good and they (Southerners) were bad.” LOGBOOKS » PAGE 28







Leg irons used on abolitionist auctioned

This June 17, 2013, photo provided by Heritage Auctions, shows a Carte De Visite of John Brown, likely as he looked close to the time of his failed raid on Harper’s Ferry W. Va. John Brown’s capture of the Federal Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry on Oct. 17, 1859, as part of a failed attempt to incite a slave uprising is seen by most historians as the spark that ignited the Civil War.

By Angela K. Brow and Vicki Smith

The leg irons t h at r e s t r a i ne d Tor rington-born abolitionist John Brown after his failed 1859 raid on a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, W. Va., have sold at auction for $13,145. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions said the winning bidder declined to be identified. Hundreds of in-person, telephone and online bidders were vying Saturday for various items. They include a gun belt owned by legendary outDALLAS >>


law Jesse James and the tra dema rk white suit worn by Kentucky Fried Chicken founder “Colonel” Harland Sanders. Many scholars believe Brown and his raid hastened the start of the Civil War as he tried to end slavery. The Connecticut native and some followers seized the arsenal, hoping to provide 100,000 weapons to slaves who never joined them. Brown later was hanged. Heritage Auctions estimated the shackles are worth at least $10,000, but some Brown memorabilia has fetched much more.


This June 17, 2013, photo provided by Heritage Auctions, shows a close-up of the marking, “D2” on the left-handed thread key that locked and unlocked the leg irons that held abolitionist John Brown during his arrest after his botched raid on Harper’s Ferry, W. Va., on Oct. 17, 1859. It is unknown what “D2” stands for. John Brown’s capture of the Federal Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry on Oct. 17, 1859, as part of a failed attempt to incite a slave uprising is seen by most historians as the spark that ignited the Civil War. They have been passed down in the family of John Boling, of Idaho, for six generations, after being obtained by a decedent shortly after Brown’s execution.

family hopes that whoever buys the shackles will display them publicly. “We believe that history should be learned and In 2007, a rare daguerreJohn Boling of Buhl, understood,” said Boling, otype sold for $97,750 at a Idaho, whose family has whose great-great-greatCincinnati auction. long owned them, said his g randfather, Hezek iah

million enslaved people, most of them growing cotton.” Farrow noted Connecticut didn’t get around to making slavFROM PAGE 27 ery illegal until 1848. We were But Culliton noted, “What the last state in New England to about those beautiful homes in do that. Guilford and Madison? They But for a long time before this, were made possible by the West in Connecticut and elsewhere, Farrow noted, “All the best famIndian trade. But people don’t make the next step, which is slav- ilies owned ‘captives.’” And men ery. Those early homeowners of fine reputation such as Midwere trading with slave dealers.” dletown’s John Easton, who capFarrow nodded and said you tained the Africa and countless can say the same thing about other slave ships, had fabulous many of the beautiful colonial mansions built from the profits houses on the Connecticut shore- of their commerce. Farrow noted line from Greenwich to StoningEaston must have been “comfortton. able” with the tools of his trade, “It’s the landscape of enslaveincluding whips. ment,” she said. “Once you learn Farrow subtitled her book to see it, you see it everywhere.” “Connecticut’s Slave Ships and She cited Connecticut’s indus- Human Memory” because she links Northerners’ lost memory trial ties to the slave trade. For on our ties to slavery with the example, “Negro cloth” was womemory loss of her mother as she ven in Stonington. And after Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin slipped into dementia. Farrow was forced to deal with this perin Hamden in 1793, demand for cotton workers (slaves) rapidly in- sonal tragedy at the same time creased. she was doing research for her “Eli Whitney had spent time book. It was impossible for her on a plantation, so I don’t think not to make the connection. he was ignorant about slavery,” Recalling the shattering moFarrow said. “But I don’t think he ment when she realized her could have foreseen that half a mother would never regain her century later, there would be four memory, Farrow wrote, “But the

story of those Connecticut slave ships and their captains, THAT story I could recover.” Occasionally, Farrow is confronted by friends and even scholars and historians who ask her why she is so obsessed with telling this story. Her book contains this response: “The story of injustice and suffering they know, and have documented, still has not made its way into the national narrative. What the historians know has not become truly public, and until it does, I can be of use.” Farrow links the sufferings of slavery to today by writing that denying the past “helps keep the damage of slavery alive because when trauma is denied, the suffering of its descendants becomes worse.” We in the New Haven area are proud of our connection with the Amistad story: After captives from Sierra Leone mutinied on board La Amistad and the vessel was re-captured by authorities and brought to New Haven, the jailed Africans eventually won their freedom in a long court battle. But not everybody around here rallied to the captives’ defense. In her book, Farrow recounts her visit to Sierra Leone to see

the abandoned Bence Island, a fortress where captives who had been kidnapped from their villages and separated from their families were kept until being forced onto ships for the Caribbean or America. In Sierra Leone’s Freetown, an angry woman named Sia Fayia waved a DVD of Steven Spielberg’s film “Amistad” in Farrow’s face and asked fiercely: “How do you escape from this nightmare? How?” Fayia answered her own question: “Only by awakening.” At that point, Farrow thought to herself: “And by remembering.” When I met Farrow at R.J. Julia, she told me she had not explored New Haven’s connections with the slave trade. But she recalled coming across a Barbados document from the late 17th century, a customs record of a ship with New Haven as its home port. The document said it had a small number of slaves on board. Farrow said her discovery of Saltonstall’s logbooks and subsequent events “unfolded like a novel.” It was a lucky break that that friend of hers unearthed a 1928 article from the Hartford Times. The news story referred to the logbooks of three slaving voyages. After Farrow made her mo-

Atwood Jr., apparently obtained them shortly after Brown’s execution on Dec. 2, 1859, in what is today West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. History long regarded Brown as a domestic terrorist, and some Southerners still do. BROWN


Torrington-born man led famous 1859 raid


mentous trip to the state library, she showed her findings to Robert Forbes, then on the staff of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale. When he saw her print-outs, he jumped out of his chair, shouting: “Where did you get these? Bence Island! I can’t believe this!” Providentially, the man studying in the next room, on a fellowship at Yale, was Joseph Opala, the world authority on Bence Island. He was as excited as Forbes when he saw what Farrow had found. Opala told Farrow she simply had to go to that island to understand, as she wrote, “the trauma it embodies and symbolizes.” And she did go, unable to resist “the powerful draw of its history.” Having walked amid that haunted ruin and contemplated what happened there, Farrow wrote that the 400 years of slavery, the 12.5 million lives cruelly wasted and lost, “defies imagining and understanding.” Contact Randall Beach at [email protected] or 203680-9345. This column was originally published November 22, 2014.


| Celebrating Black History Month


46 years after MLK’s death, black men say image remains an issue By Shahid Abdul-Karim [email protected] @Shahid_Akarim on Twitter

Derr ick Draughn has had experiences familiar to many black men. For instance, he said, he recalls “having to prove my credentials, as owner of my business, prior to commencement of further business discussion due to the belief that my organization wasn’t owned and operated by an African-American. “Apparently, they were expecting an older white male as the representative,” said Draughn, 42, a New Haven area resident and owner of DCI Resources Inc, aka The Learning Academy, a computer literacy firm. “What’s interesting is that person was from the African-American community.” Draughn’s experience is not an unusual one for many black men who feel saddled with a negative image. Forty-six years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., race still matters in America, say six black New NEW HAVEN >>

Brown FROM PAGE 28

Many scholars consider Brown and his raid to be flash points, hastening the start of the Civil War. But many now see him as a martyr, ahead of his time in trying to end slavery. Brown spent months plotting to seize 100,000 weapons from the arsenal and use them to launch a guerrilla war with the slaves he believed would join him. Yet the first casualty in the Harpers Ferry raid was a free black man, a baggage handler who bled to death while Brown’s raiders grabbed hostages and holed up at a fire engine house. Within 48 hours, the re-

Haven area men who wanted to discuss the topic with the Register. From their perspective, race remains a factor in the broader society’s perception of black men, ranging from the president of the United States to the young men caught in the crossfire of street violence. “I believe that when a few of our young black men give credibility to the racists’ impression of us by the behavior we continue to indulge in, it hurts us more,” said Calvin Mackey, 42, of Hamden and a group benefits specialist for Legal Shields Connecticut. “We’ve made it a popular thing to be ignorant and the moment one of us displays it, he or she’s given a (reality) show of their own just so they (whites) can say ‘See, we told you.’” Mackey said at age 21 he chose to be a computer technician working in corporate America, but left after 20 years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “I was pretty much an anomaly to most of them. I never went to school for

computers and that put me even further down the list,” Mackey said, who is married with six children. “Back then, if you were a white guy with no formal education you were a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but if you were a black man you better be able to walk on water,” he said. Mackey said his triumph was to embrace the challenge. “I knew that I would have to be twice the tech that my white counterpart (was), so I embraced that and surpassed it,” he said. I knew that my son needed to see what character is and my daughters need to know what they should look for in a real man.” “I know my wife needs to know that regardless of what anyone will say to me at work, on the streets, walking through a department store, or when I’m pulled over by a cop for no reason, that regardless of any of that my response would not put her livelihood and that of our children in jeopardy,” Mackey said. Racism is something that far too many blacks, espe-

cially black men, have experienced in a country that has recently been touted as postracial. But even in a country with a black president, many black men still feel the sting of racism. But just how much race matters in America depends on the age of the black men posed with the question. “I believe that people in the past have made assumptions based on race and gender,” said Avery Washington, 25, of New Haven and a member of Chi Omicron chapter of Omega Psi Phi, among the nation’s oldest black fraternal organization. “I am aware that our society views young men who share my complexion as a threat.” Washington, a 2011 graduate of Tuskeege University, said he believes the image of black men is negative but said he’s never experienced racism first-hand in his lifetime. Washington is a teacherin-residence at Elm City College Preparatory Middle School. Isaac Bloodworth, 18, a graduate of Cooperative Arts

and Humanities High School who now attends the University of Connecticut, said during his time at Co-op he felt part of the majority, but at college he feels in the minority. “Race is not a welcomed topic of discussion, because people get touchy-feely,” said Bloodworth, who is majoring in puppetry. “They don’t want to offend anyone and get on the wrong side when it comes to race,” he said. Bloodworth said he believes the perception of black men on campus is, “we dress a certain way, wear urban clothing, and are often loud and obnoxious.” According to Bloodworth, the perception of people from New Haven on campus is not driven by news, but by some New Haven residents. “It’s good and bad, a mixture of both. People from New Haven talk down on New Haven,” Bloodworth said, explaining that the city’s negative reputation with outsiders is driven by comments of city natives. Bloodworth is the only black student in his major.

bellion was dead, along with at least four civilians, 10 raiders and a U.S. Marine. Brown was tried for treason, murder and inciting a rebellion. He was hanged in Charles Town, and is buried on his former farmstead in North Elba, N.Y., now home to the John Brown Farm State Historic Site. An official with New York’s parks system said the state has no plans to bid. “The raid didn’t happen here, and we don’t have the resources at this time,” said Brendan Mills, manager of the site near Lake Placid. “If they were donated, we would take them,” Much of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is devoted to the story of John Brown, but Superintendent Rebecca Harriett

said Monday that she was unaware of the auction. Funding would also be an issue, she said, “especially on such short notice.” Don Ackerman, consignment director for the auction house, said historians had to sift through a lot of “murky family lore” to verify the shackles are authentic. Among the stampings are the initials ER, for a wellknown Shepherdstown locksmith, Elijah Rickard. Boling’s ancestor served with the First Maine Volunteers in the Civil War and was in Charles Town at some point, perhaps to put down the rebellion, Ackerman said. At least four newspaper articles published between 1889 and 1893 reported that Atwood obtained Brown’s

leg irons from an elderly black woman, providing her a substitute pair that he bought for $8. The shackles were briefly exhibited at the Portland Historical Society in Maine after Atwood returned home. When he died, his widow gave them to his brother, James N. Atwood. They later ended up at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., where the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher stomped on them during sermons about slavery. Beecher was the brother of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” author Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Hezekiah Atwood Sr. had been a Congregationalist minister. “When you’re talking about historical objects like this ... it’s not always possi-

ble to say with absolute certainty that it is what is,” Ackerman said. But “deductive reasoning” and the evidence he’s reviewed provide 99 percent certainty. Nor has there ever been a contradictory claim of ownership. “I’m satisfied that everything matches and makes sense,” Ackerman said, starting with the fact that the same family has had the artifact for generations and that family was connected to Charles Town. The maker’s marks appear genuine, linked to a well-known family of local locksmiths the jail would likely have used -- and the jail acknowledged the shackles had been “liberated” after Brown’s execution. “All of those taken in to-


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DJ Bink B, a New Haven professional DJ, when asked about the perception of black men by whites in Greater New Haven, said, “They’re only looking at the bad news about us and think that’s all that happens.” “They are scared of us,” Bink said, who has been a DJ since 1994 and lives in Newhallville. “They never see, or (choose) to overlook, the good news, which makes them scared of us,” he said. The perception of black men by fellow black men is seen as a contributing factor behind the violence that claimed 20 lives in New Haven last year. “Part of the violence that we see has to do with the accumulated results of the invalidation of black life,” said Association of Black Psychologists President Taasogle Daryl Rowe. “When you’ve had a social system for the last 350 years actively devaluing and dehumanizing black people, then the message that has been embedded in the dehumanization experience has internalized folks of African ancestry,” Rowe said. IMAGE




tality,” he said, “it’s fairly convincing to me that these are the ones.” Brown was born in1800 in Torrington at a farm house on property now owned by the Torrington Historical Society and the John Brown Association. The house itself was destroyed by a fire in 1918. Hiking trails that will include signage detailing the life and times of Brown are planned for the property. Online bidding ends Friday at 10 p.m. Central. Live bidding starts Saturday morning but can also be done by phone or through the Heritage website. Register Citizen staff and Associated Press writer Chris Carola contributed to this report. Originally ran June 22, 2013.





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The violence locally and the social and psychological roots behind those incidents reflect what occurs nationally. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, for 1976-2005 combined, blacks were overrepresented in homicides involving gangs, drugs and guns. The statistics show that in 51 percent of gun homicides, the victims were black, as were 56 percent of the offenders; 39 percent of gang-related homicides were black-on-black crimes. The level of violence in the black community has become “somewhat” a normality, but it stems from systematic racial oppression and economic marginalization, according to Rowe. Rowe said he believes that psycho-education and emotional management are ways to reduce violence and combat negative images of blacks. “We have to begin a massive effort to help black folk understand that the set of symptoms that we see leading to the fragmentation and deterioration of the integrity of the black community have to do with the residual of this historical trauma as it relates to the dehumanization of black life,” he said. “We have to teach folk how to grapple with those emotions and to help learn how to regulate (the situation) in ways that it doesn’t turn against ourselves,” Rowe said. “This is what we see with the black-on-black violence,” he said. The Association of Black Psychologists is partnering with the New Haven-based Community Healing Network on the development of Emotional Emancipation Circles, which are designed to address the historical and continuing devaluation of the lives of black men. Of the nine international

black sororities and fraternities, Omega Psi Phi is one organization helping to eliminate the negative outlook of black men in America, Washington said. “For the past two years, Omega has shaped my overall development as a man. The fraternity has challenged me to be an advocate in my community by committing to a life of service,” said Washington, who was initiated in summer 2011. “I’m always willing to reach out and help our youth, especially with educational endeavors and personal goals. Helping out youth is critical as they are the leaders of tomorrow,” Washington said. The fraternity’s cardinal principles are manhood, scholarship, perseverance and uplift. “Since the days of ‘Birth of a Nation’ by D.W Griffith, a film about the uprising of the Ku Klux Klan, there has been a false portrayal of black men that has transcended to the public’s perception of black men,” said Janai Kemp, 34, of New Haven, an independent filmmaker. “This is no different from the psychological enslavement that has gone on since the days of slavery,” Kemp said. “We tend to keep the white supremacy agenda solely associated with a political stage and overlook how effective white supremacists’ beliefs can be when expressed through entertainment media.” The National Movement to Save Black Boys President Umar Johnson said part of the problems stems from the idea that exterminating the image of a population is a way to eventually exterminate a population. “When we look at any extermination campaign, you have to make sure the image is made worthless in the eyes of the public. This is where the movies, music and entertainment media comes in,” Johnson said. “‘Look at these (epithet), all they talk about is selling

drugs, smoking weed and having sex. If we got rid of all of them it might not be such a bad thing, because we’d be sanitizing our culture,’” said Johnson, who is a nationally certified school psychologist and therapist. “The reason why we don’t see an outcry over black homicides, even within the minds of the black community, is because the image of the black man has been so exterminated in the public that folks don’t see it as a bad thing when black men are killed,” he said. Whites hold ownership monopolies over the nation’s print, entertainment and electronic media. For instance, according to a study by the American Society of News Editors, nonwhites comprise 12.37 percent of newsrooms in America, down from 13.73 in 2006. Minorities account for 37 percent of the population. Film director Tariq Nasheed of King Flex Films, a Los Angeles-based production and entertainment company, said the constant image in mainstream media of black men is not only one-sided, but ventures into the realm of deliberate propaganda. Nasheed, who directed the critically acclaimed documentary “Hidden Colors” film series, said, “The ‘Hidden Colors’ series shows a counter balance. And trying to beg and plead with other groups of people to stop portraying black men in a negative light has not and will not work.” “Black people in general and black men in particular, are going to have to take it upon themselves to pool their resources together and promote our own images of ourselves. And the ‘Hidden Colors’ series is proof that it can be done,” he said. Nasheed said he believes that films like “12 Years a Slave,” “The Help” and “The Butler” promote the narrative that blacks should “take their servitude with dignity.”

“Black people should see the film (“Hidden Colors”) because there is a collective lack of real self-esteem within the black community,” Nasheed said. Kemp said his life hasn’t been typical because he’s biracial. “The first part of my childhood was predominately in the black community, so racism at that time wasn’t a factor. It was only until my father moved us in to the predominantly white suburbs that I really started to see the ugly face of racism,” said Kemp, whose mother is white and father is black. “I had no perception of what the whole black versus white thing was, but then (epithet) began to be a word I was hearing often,” he said. Kemp said he remembers an experience when he was 9 while bringing groceries into his home and being subjected to racial slurs from neighbors. “A man and some of his drunk friends screamed out to my mother ‘(epithet) lover’ and she yelled for my father. My father ran outside and got into his car to chase them down,” said Kemp, who was living in Milford at the time. “Not sure whatever happened after that, but that was the moment I began to really attempt to try and understand what racism really is and why it exists,” he said. Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency seemed to signal a change in race relations. In fact, a national Gallup Poll, shortly before the 2008 election, found 56 percent of Americans surveyed said race relations would improve if Obama were elected. That sentiment quickly dissolved. In October 2009, 41 percent of Americans polled said relations had improved and 22 percent said they had gotten worse. Currently, 41 percent of Americans say race relations have not changed as a result of


Obama’s presidency, the poll said. Just 35 percent believe U.S. race relations have gotten better with Obama as president, according to Gallup. Draughn said he was proud and disgusted with white America during the last presidential election. “I witnessed such genuine appreciation for a black man from walks of life that would only show that level of exuberance during the Super Bowl, while cheering on their favorite player,” Draughn said. “Then I got to see a side of people (white business affiliates) that I thought I knew, but provided such evident disdain for Obama’s re-election, devoid of any argument to justify a legitimate position. To this day I approach them differently and they sense it,” he said. Draughn said his greatest challenge as a black man is raising his 10-year-old son to recognize and embrace his heritage, but to not feel the anxiety of having to choose between being a thug or an Uncle Tom. “Another challenge is expecting to deliver less-thanacceptable business service and this expectation is from our own community,” said Draughn, who has been in business for 15 years. “I have no choice but to overachieve, in order to remove this assumption.” Bink said with the election of the city’s first black female mayor, the image of black men in New Haven is not going to change. “I don’t think it’s going to change anything. Politics is a different game and a lot of times they have to play the cards they are handed,” he said. “I think the people are going to have more hope; it’s changing downtown, it’s changing for areas where they put the spotlight on, but not in my community.” Mackey said the perceptions the broader public have of black men has influenced the way the president has done his job. “I believe the president’s

position of being a more peaceful leader than his predecessors is admirable, but I feel he needs to really be a lot tougher than he has been,” Mackey said. “I think he wanted to stray so far away from the angry black man persona that he feels responding to some of the dysfunction in Washington would make him look bad.” More than 846,000 black men were incarcerated in 2008, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice. Blacks make up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, according to census data, but black men reportedly make up 40.2 percent of the 2.1 million male inmates in all prisons. “Slavery begins when young black boys are born. As soon as they’re labeled a problem child in school, their record has already begun,” Kemp said. “Incarceration is just another way to keep the cycle continuing.” “The problem is too many of these so called nonprofits put in place to help the community are too afraid to address those issues, because they don’t want to lose those federal dollars,” Mackey said. “A lot of the kids have young parents and they don’t have fathers around, which is a big reason we see so many black youth in prison,” said Bink. “There’s not a lot of fathers involved in children’s lives, so they look to their peers for answers or resolutions,” he said. Bloodworth said the image of young black men is so bad in New Haven that his parents worry about him being killed, beaten by police or jailed for no reason, other than being black. “My dad and mom always remind me, ‘You’re black and you have to behave a certain way when you’re out in public,’” he said. Brian Charles contributed to this story. Call Community Engagement Editor Shahid AbdulKarim at 203-789-5614.



| Celebrating Black History Month


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Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Lubbie Harper Jr. honored Wilbur Cross media center dedicated to city native By Shahid Abdul-Karim [email protected] @shahid_akarim on Twitter

Lubbie Harper Jr. is proof that black kids from the inner city can excel. Harper is one of seven Connecticut Supreme Court Justices and is a native of New Haven. Thursday, Wilbur Cross High School dedicated its Library Media Center in honor of Harper for his accomplishments and service to the community. Over 400 students, friends, family, city officials and school district leaders gathered in the school’s auditorium for Harper’s acceptance remarks. Harper, a 1961 graduate of the school who some have called one of New Haven’s historic hero’s, said Thursday’s ceremony serves as one of many examples of inner-city kids breaking down negative perceptions about urban stereotypes. “This event serves to dispel some of the hideous and unfair perceptions about urban educaNEW HAVEN >>

tion, its students, teachers, and administrators,” said Harper. “This ceremony also serves notice to the community and to the naysayers that inner-city kids attending an urban school can excel,” Harper said in his acceptance speech. “From the baseball diamond at Cross, to the football field, from the football field to the basketball court and from the basketball court, to the Supreme Court of the state of Connecticut,” Harper added. “Don’t tell me that our inner city kids can’t succeed, I know they can.” Following Harper’s remarks, a private ceremony was held in the school’s Library Media Center . According to the district’s 2012-13 school profile, Wilbur Cross is 33.5 percent black, 49.5 percent Hispanic, 14 percent white, 2.2 percent Asian and 1 percent other. “This is a very special occasion for this school and the city, because he grew up in New Haven and has become a great suc-


The Honorable Justice Lubbie Harper Jr. motions to a friend after the unveiling of his portrait and a plaque during the Wilbur L. Cross High School library Media Center dedication in his honor June 6, 2013, in New Haven. cess story for all of us,” said Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo said. “He was a young

man with a big set of dreams; he is living proof to you students of this school and schools in New Haven, that if you work hard and dream big you can accomplish big things,” he added. In February 2011 Governor Dannel P. Malloy nominated Harper for elevation to the Supreme Court and the oath of office as Supreme Court Justice was administered to him March 2011. Mayor John DeStefano Jr, who also attended the ceremony said of Harper, “In life you may know where you start, but never know where you will end up; Lubbie has always taken this school and this district with him,” he said. “Lubbie never left home, and what a way for this school to acknowledge a son of New Haven,” Harper was raised on Winchester Avenue and graduated for the University of New Haven with a Bachelor of Science in 1965. He was awarded a Master’s degree from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work in 1967 and a Juris Doctor Degree for the University of Connecticut School of Law in

1975. Longtime friend Carroll E. Brown said Harper is a role model for everyone, particularly young black men. “He became a role model for all people because of his universal appeal, but more importantly he is a role model for our young black men,” said Brown, who’s the president of the West Haven Black Coalition. “In spite all the odds facing him, he made it, because he made education a priority; not basketball, and all of New Haven is proud of him,” she said. “This is a great thing for us because he is one of our alumni here,” said Kevin Rivas, 16 a sophomore at the school. “It just shows when you work hard and put your mind to it, you can really do amazing things,” he said. Harper also told students, he learned to strive forward with zeal and to take the high road on the highways of life, “if you do you will enjoy richness of life’s opportunities,” Originally published June 6, 2013


Martin Luther King honored Music, wise words mark West Haven event By Michelle Tuccitto Sullo WEST HAVEN >> It was stand-

ing room only Sunday at the 29th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Tribute, as hundreds gathered to honor the civil rights leader’s legacy through music, prayer and reflection. Carroll Brown, event organizer and founder and president of the West Haven Black Coalition, told the crowd at the First Congregational Church on the Green it was the largest turnout in the event’s his-

tory. “Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of a man we all love,” Brown said. David Telfort, a student at Yale Divinity School, was the keynote speaker. “The world is waiting for you to change it for the better,” Telfort said. Telfort said we can learn from King and from the biblical David, who defeated Goliath. “They both teach us — every place we are holds an opportunity for us to learn something,” Telfort said. Another lesson is to hold onto the past, but trans-

form your pain into power. “When Dr. King was a boy, he had a white friend, but when it was time for them to go to school, they were segregated,” Telfort said. “Dr. King held onto that memory and molded it into fuel for justice.” New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said King’s perseverance transformed a nation. “If it were not for the work he did, I would not be here today as mayor,” Harp said. “His speech resonated — there is a song of freedom in every human being’s heart.” Brittany Palmer, a stu-

dent at the University of New Haven, said she remembers learning about King as a little girl. Palmer said she has participated in Black Lives Matter demonstrations, “He chose to live his days fighting for what is right,” Palmer said. “Dr. King has proven to me that I have the strength to make change happen. He inspires me to stand out in the cold to make my voice heard.” Pamela Gardner, principal at West Haven High School, said the importance of King’s message and work remains constant. “It is up to all of us to carry on his mission,” she said. “We must continue to work together to ensure

all people can achieve their dreams.” T he Rev. Freder ick Streets, senior pastor at Dixwell United Church of Christ, said he is thrilled to see young people taking to the streets to say “Black Lives Matter.” “Each and every generation has the challenge and responsibility to live out the meaning of Dr. King’s dream,” Streets said. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, told those in attendance King not only wanted to end the injustice of racism, but of poverty. “We have seen attacks on health care, Medicare and social security, and prominent voices advocate for deeper cuts,” DeLauro said. “We need to demand

more compassion from those who represent us.” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he has never seen a standingroom-only crowd before in the years he has been attending. “We are here to say we believe in love and peace and freedom,” Blumenthal said. “What I see in this sea of faces is Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.” Blumenthal said we need people who are willing to work to make laws better. The event featured many musical and vocal performances, culminating with “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Originally published Jan. 12, 2015.



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