Connecticut Explored has recently named the Witness Stones Project as one of its
20 Game Changer Honorees that advance the way we study, interpret, and disseminate history. Over the past five years, we have worked with more than 6,600 students in 45 communities to help restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities.
We thank Connecticut Explored for this honor and our community for your continued support!
The Witness Stones Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities, today announced a new affiliation with Hamden Middle School. The public school in Hamden, Connecticut, will be using the Project’s curriculum and landscape markers to expand their teaching of the history of slavery in Connecticut.
Students will examine primary source documents, such property, church, and vital records; wills and probate inventories; and census data, in order to understand the reality of slavery and to restore the memory of those individuals who were enslaved. They will learn how to document and describe the dehumanization and paternalism of slavery; the economic and legal framework that supported slavery; and, the agency, resistance, and contributions of the enslaved to our local and national history. Finally, these students will be inviting their communities to witness as they install memorial stones for individuals who were enslaved in their town.
The mission of the Hamden Middle School is to provide challenging, high-quality learning experiences and supports so that all students develop skills, attitudes and practices for academic and life-long success.
By Susan Dunne in the Hartford Courant on August 17, 2022
Connecticut Explored, the nonprofit history magazine, wants to tell stories mainstream history left out, the stories from communities that have been unheard, suppressed or oppressed. The nonprofit has named 20 “Game Changers,” modern-day historians whose methods and subjects go where traditional historians have not gone before.
“We’re a history magazine. We want to tell the whole story of Connecticut history. We are motivated to include people who have not been included before and to represent the diversity of our state geographically an in terms of people and institutions,” said Dr. Kathy Hermes, the magazine’s executive director and publisher.
“They’re doing new things and by virtue of doing new things they’re getting the history that will be the future of the historical enterprise in Connecticut.”
Each “Game Changer” — people, organizations, projects, a book — will be highlighted in free public programs in the coming months. Each will get a feature in the magazine. A gala in October will celebrate their contributions to local lore. Continue reading.
In the Greenwich Sentinel on August 10, 2022
Since 2019 the Greenwich Historical Society has collaborated with The Witness Stones Project on this initiative that seeks to teach school-aged children about the enslaved persons who lived in their hometowns. Students and teachers from Sacred Heart Greenwich and Greenwich Academy work in conjunction with the Historical Society in researching the daily lives of those enslaved at the Bush-Holley House. The annual placement ceremony is the culmination of their work over many months.
On May 25, two new Witness Stone memorials were placed in honor of Jack, eldest son of Candice and brother of Hester, and Cull Jr. youngest son of Cull Bush Sr. and Patience. A total of six stones have been placed at the site in a garden below an attic where it is believed most of the enslaved people lived. The remaining nine individuals who worked at this historic home will be honored in future years as the initiative expands to other schools in town.
For more information, visit https://greenwichhistory.org/witness-stones/
The Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust took part in many events during the week-long 350+2 Jubilee Celebration. On June 18,, a replica of the Nehemiah Royce House, celebrating its 350th anniversary (1672-2022), was part of the 350+2 parade.
On Juneteenth, WHPT Board President Jerry Farrell and WHPT Director of Operations, Lorraine Connelly, both Directors of the Wallingford 350th Jubilee Committee, were hosts to the All-Faiths Service and Juneteenth Observance at the Seymour St. John Chapel on the campus of Choate Rosemary Hall. Sheehan High School vocalist Sajag Timilsina led attendees in a rousing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” accompanied by Dr. Jeanette Gross, organist of First Congregational Church in Wallingford. The interfaith service was led Rev. Aaron Rathbun, Choate Rosemary Hall’s Chaplain. After the service, all were invited to attend the opening of WHPT’s “Enslaved Wallingford” exhibit at the Nehemiah Royce House, delving into enslavement of Black Americans in Wallingford between 1710 and 1840.
A dedication of Wallingford’s first Witness Stone in honor of Black Revolutionary War soldier Dick Freedom was held at the Royce House. A second dedication of Witness Stones in memory of Grace and Esau, enslaved in Wallingford, took place at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church. WHPT has partnered with the Witness Stone Project, Inc. to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved through research, education, and civic engagement.
From the Connecticut College News on June 29, 2022
At the Florence Griswold Museum’s Juneteenth celebration, Conn Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence Kate Rushin read “Fishing for Shad,” a poem she wrote about the story of Jack Howard, who was born enslaved in Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1795 and was willed to another person at the age of 14.
“I don’t know where I belong
but I know I don’t belong here.
I don’t know much
but I know what is right.
I don’t have much
but I have myself.
I’m not a man yet
but I’m not a child.
I don’t want much
but I want more than this,” she recited.
Rushin was one of four acclaimed Connecticut poets to participate in the June 18 event, which also featured the Nat Reeves Quartet in a celebration of jazz and poetry. Rushin and fellow poets Marilyn Nelson, Rhonda Ward and Antoinette Brim-Bell read a verse cycle written in collaboration with the Old Lyme Witness Stones Project, about 14 African-descended persons once enslaved in Old Lyme. Continue reading.