Celebrating Black History in Connecticut Last Updated: February 2023
Connecticut is rich with Black history and stories of the trailblazing efforts that African American people have contributed to American History. With such abundant history comes many ways to celebrate it, especially during February for Black History Month. Explore the state that spawned Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose abolitionist Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped changed the world, the first boarding school for women of color, the birthplace of a famous abolitionist and more!
Connecticut’s Tributes to Black History
While we dedicate the month of February to celebrate Black History, it can be honored year-round in many historic Connecticut landmarks and museums.
- Did you know that one of America’s most well-known abolitionists, John Brown was born right in Torrington, Connecticut? Although his house was destroyed in a fire in 1918, the property, as well as a granite monument, are maintained by the Torrington Historical Society. In 1859 John Brown lead the Harpers Ferry Raid, an effort to commence an armed slave revolt in the South by overtaking a United States arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia - an effort that has been recognized as a foreshadowing of the Civil War. The pikes used by Brown and his men were actually crafted by the Collins Company in Collinsville, Connecticut and one can be seen on display at the Canton Historical Museum.
- Honor the service of Connecticut’s first all-black military regiment with a visit to the 29th Colored Regiment Monument at Criscuolo Park in New Haven. The troop faced racism, discrimination, and lower pay than white regiments. Still, they fought courageously and were even the first infantry units to enter Richmond, Virginia after it was abandoned by the Confederate Army. The monument was dedicated in 2008 and beautifully commemorates the soldiers who contributed so greatly to both African American and American history.
- Seek out the stones from the Witness Stones Project in Guilford or West Hartford. This project aims to honor and recognize the lives of enslaved people through stones that are placed in the location of enslavement and identify the enslaved person.
- Explore the impact of Stowe's 1852 anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford and engage with collections that belonged to Stowe and her family.
- Did you know that the nation’s first boarding school for young African American women was right in Connecticut? The Prudence Crandall Museum's efforts for equal education helped affirm attitudes against slavery and ultimately won the founder, Prudence Crandall a spot in the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995. While the museum is currently under renovation and has not yet reopened, you may soon be able to attend one of the talks which will be offered throughout the state while the museum is closed. Organizations and institutions interested in hosting a talk can contact the museum at [email protected]. The remodeling process will allow for new exhibits and the opportunity to bring forward the voices and stories of the students who attended the academy, offering a fuller picture of the tumultuous seventeen months that the school was open for African American young women.
- Check out all the fascinating Black History landmarks up close and in person by taking a look at the Connecticut Freedom Trail.
- Celebrate three centuries of Black strength, resilience, and accomplishment at New London’s Black Heritage Trail. Together, the sites tell a story about Black life in New London while tying into larger stories about enslavement, the Great Migration and the struggle for civil rights.
Events to Honor Black History
WPKN Celebrates Black History Month - Make it Funky
February 4 — The Bijou Theatre, Bridgeport
Annual Black History Month Celebration — “A Legacy Revealed | A Glimpse of Hope”
February 9 — Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford
Black Maritime Excellence: Reclaiming Afro-Atlantic Dialogues
February 25 — Mystic Seaport Museum