DAS Recognizes Black History Month 2023
February is Black History Month. Black History Month is the annual celebration of the achievements and impact of Black Americans in U.S. history. The month-long celebration evolved from “Negro History Week” in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). A week in February was chosen because it included the birthdays of abolitionist and author Frederick Douglas and President Abraham Lincoln who issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
By 1976 a week-long event became an entire month of recognition thanks to former President Gerald Ford, who felt that the often-overlooked accomplishments of Black people needed to be celebrated for longer than a week. February annually, has since become Black History Month.
Did you know that there is Black influence and impact right here in our home state of Connecticut? The Department of Administrative Services’ Equal Employment Opportunity Team will be celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion all month long and wanted to highlight some quick Black History facts in the state.
- Located in New Haven, CT at Criscuolo Park sits the 29th Colored Regiment Monument to honor Connecticut’s first all-black military troop. This regiment fought courageously despite facing racism, discrimination, and unequal pay. In spite of it all, they overcame and were the first infantry units to enter Richmond, VA after the Confederate Army abandoned it. In 2008, the monument was dedicated to commemorating the soldiers who contributed greatly to both African American and U.S. history.
- Did you know that the first boarding school for African American young women was started right here in Canterbury, CT? In 1832, Prudence Crandall, the principal of the Canterbury Female Boarding School was approached by a young black woman named Sarah Harris, who asked to become a student at the school. Crandall agreed, but with the new integration of a black student, residents protested, and parents threatened to remove their children from the school. Crandall closed the school and reopened it in 1833 for non-white students and allowed students from several other states to attend. Connecticut then passed the “Black Law” which prevented out-of-state black and brown people from attending school without town approval. In 1834 a mob attacked the school causing it to close. This location is now known as the Prudence Crandall Museum, a national landmark in Canterbury, CT. This event made local and national news and began an abolitionist movement. Crandall v. Connecticut impacted Supreme Court Cases such as Dred Scott v. Sandford and Brown v. Board of Education. The movement also aided in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
- Twenty-eight miles west of Hartford, one of America’s well-known abolitionists, John Brown was born in Torrington, CT. Brown led the Harpers Ferry Raid in 1859, which was an effort to begin a slave revolt over the United States arsenal in Harpers Ferry, VA. An act that has been recognized as a forewarning of the Civil War, the materials used by Brown and his men were created by the Collins Company in Collinsville, CT. The property was destroyed by a fire in 1918. In its place is a monument in Brown’s honor, maintained by the Torrington Historical Society.
- Officially unveiled in October of 2021, The New London Black Heritage Trail was created after a few years of a collaborative effort between Curtis K. Goodwin, New London City Councilman, Felix Reyes, New London Economic Development Coordinator, and a research team for the area’s landmarks. Featuring multiple facets of three centuries of New London’s Black community’s resilience and achievements, the self-guided tour is completed with audio narrations and videos that are accessible through QR codes. The Connecticut State Library is hosting an event on the project on February 16th at 12pm.
While February is devoted to celebrating Black History, it can be honored all year long by visiting the many museums and landmarks that Connecticut has to offer. You can also check out the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of Tourism’s site for more Black History events taking place this month in Connecticut.
Black History Month-- Black History Month 2023: Facts, Origins & More | HISTORY - HISTORY
CT State Library-- Upcoming Events – Connecticut State Library (ctstatelibrary.org)
Prudence Crandall Museum-- Prudence Crandall Museum, Canterbury, CT
Connecticut Black History Facts and Activities-- Black History Month Activities in CT | Visit CT (ctvisit.com)