Our panel discussion was a great hit! Thank you, Lauretta, from the Guilford Free Library for your assistance, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center for providing Oliver Scholes as a moderator, our panelists for their expertise, and all of the attendees for sharing their minds and hearts about how our study of slavery in the past can make a difference in the present!
By Ed Stannard in the New Haven Register on September 13, 2017
About 100 people met Wednesday to face the reality of being part of a culture that is still stained by the truth that white people owned black Africans in their own town.
The meeting, held at the Guilford Free Library, was organized by the Witness Stones Project, which plans to embed granite and brass memorials in the sidewalks outside where enslaved people lived in Guilford.
The crowd heard from a panel, then talked about their experiences among themselves and with the rest of the gathering. The fact that slavery was not just a Southern institution was repeated by many, as were the experiences of people witnessing or facing racism in their own lives.
Dennis Culliton, chairman of the Witness Stones Project and an eighth-grade history and language arts teacher at Adams Middle School, told of the history of slavery in Guilford, which began “in the 17th century with the Indian servants of William Leete to the 18th century with the bill of sale of Bocha, a Carolina Indian to Samuel Scranton in 1713 to the record of birth of Pompey to Montros and Phillis in 1729.”
There were about 60 slaves in Guilford in 1774, Culliton said, declining to three in the 1810 census. “The death of the last enslaved person in Guilford is Pompey at 89 years old in 1819,” he said. Continue reading.
Doug Nygren of Guilford talks about being inspired by memorial stones to Jews killed in the Holocaust in Germany to create Witness Stones in Guilford. Video by Ed Stannard–New Haven Register
The Rev. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham, pastor of the First Congregational Church in Guilford, talks about growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement. Video by Ed Stannard–New Haven Register
Marji Lipshez-Shapiro of the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut, describes incidents of racial and ethnic hatred in Connecticut. Video by Ed Stannard–New Haven Register.