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.
By Kendra Baker in the Ridgefield Press on June 23, 2022
RIDGEFIELD — Eighth graders in town will embark on a project-based learning experience next fall that not only teaches historical inquiry skills, but allows them to honor former enslaved residents whose stories have not been fully untold.
The students will work with the Witness Stones Project — an organization that works with schools and community groups to “restore the history and honor the humanity” of enslaved individuals in Connecticut — to tell the story of two enslaved people from Ridgefield’s past. Continue reading.
WALLINGFORD — It was a sunny and breezy day Sunday, and especially busy at the Historical Society’s Nehemiah Royce House, where locals recognized Juneteenth and honored the lives of enslaved men and women.
The Historical Society opened the doors at the Royce House, 538 N. Main St., to host the historical exhibit “Enslaved Wallingford,” which chronicles the experience of enslaved Black Americans in Wallingford between 1704 and 1840.
The opening of the exhibit was held in conjunction with the dedication of three Witness Stones — the first ones dedicated in Wallingford. The stones commemorate the lives of enslaved individuals. Continue reading.
By Lili Guberman on WeHa.com on June 19, 2022
The weather celebrated along with the attendees as West Hartford’s Juneteenth celebration got underway midday Sunday in West Hartford with the installation of 14 more Witness Stones.
The arch in Blue Back square was decked out in black, red, green and yellow colored balloons and a banner commemorating the day was strung across the top. Leaders of the Witness Stones West Hartford project handed out 36 cards with the names of enslaved people for attendees to read aloud during the ceremony. Continue reading.
By J.D. Freda in The Hour on June 19, 2022
WILTON — St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church is committing itself to educating the community and paying tribute to the enslaved peoples of Wilton.
The goal is to spend the remainder of the calendar year digging through historical land and personal records, with the help of the Wilton Historical Society, to tell a proper story of an enslaved Wiltonian whose history has been lost in time. When the research has been completed, the church community anticipates a permanent, physical memorialization, in the form of a stone, somewhere in town to pay tribute to that individual. Continue reading.
By Fox61 on June 19, 2022
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — West Hartford will be hosting its third annual Juneteenth CommUNITY Celebration on Sunday, June 19 at Blue Back Square.
At 12:30 p.m., at Blue Back Square, the Witness Stones Project will dedicate 14 new Witness Stones. This project seeks to restore the history and honor the humanity and contributions of enslaved individuals, who in part, built our community. Continue reading.