It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten. – Akan proverb
Through a collaboration of local faith communities, area youth in grades 6-9 will have the opportunity to explore and chronicle the history of slavery in Connecticut. In a series of workshops, participants will research historical documents and create a narrative through art, story, music, video, and poetry about a person who was enslaved in Wilton.
The Witness Stones Project is an educational initiative with a mission to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build local communities. It is not a religious program; it is a secular history curriculum that has been used in public and private schools across Connecticut and beyond.
Julie Hughes, Ph.D., a local historian and Wilton archivist with the Wilton Public Library, recently spoke at a forum at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in which she shared about the deep significance of slavery in our area. She told numerous stories about individuals who are known to have worked, lived, and worshipped in Wilton, Norwalk, Redding, New Canaan, and beyond.
“It’s hard to imagine our quaint little towns having a past with enslaved people, working and living here. I try to imagine what life was like for these individuals,” Nathan Pawelek, who oversees children and youth faith formation at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Westport, said.
Beginning on Wednesday, March 1 from 6-8 p.m. and continuing for two more sessions on March 8 and March 15, youth will have the opportunity to be guided by project leaders in learning the history of slavery locally and regionally while exploring five themes that were instrumental in establishing slavery in Connecticut. Using primary documents from Dr. Hughes’ research, participants will create stories to honor the enslaved. The program will culminate with a community ceremony in late Spring 2023. During the ceremony, participants will share their creative expressions and a “Witness Stone” will be installed to permanently honor the enslaved of our community.
The first session on March 1 is open to the public, including parents and any other adult who is interested in learning about the mission of The Witness Stones Project, Inc. The following two sessions are for the participating teens.
Participation is free and registration is required. All sessions will be held at the WEPCO complex located at 48 New Canaan Rd. in Wilton.