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 Emilia Otte in the Connecticut Examiner on June 17,
OLD LYME — The town will be ushering in Juneteenth with a mixture of jazz and poetry led by a well-known jazz quartet and four Connecticut poets who will be reading verses in commemoration of slaves who lived in Old Lyme.
The event is a partnership with the Old Lyme Witness Stones Project. The project is modeled after Berlin’s Stolpersteine, or “Stumbling Stones” — individual plaques that appear throughout the city to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. In Old Lyme, the organization has installed 30 brass plaques in different areas of the town as a way of honoring the lives of the enslaved people who once lived in the town. Continue reading.
OLD LYME – The Witness Stones Poets will join the Nat Reeves Quartet in a Juneteenth celebration of jazz and poetry on the lawn of the Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme St. in Old Lyme, Connecticut, on Saturday afternoon, June 18, at 2 p.m.
The acclaimed Connecticut poets – Marilyn Nelson, Kate Rushin, Rhonda Ward and Antoinette Brim-Bell – will read a verse cycle written in collaboration with the Old Lyme Witness Stones Partnership. The poems commemorate 14 African-descended persons once enslaved in Old Lyme.
The internationally-renowned bassist and bandleader Nat Reeves will offer a musical tribute to those once held in bondage in the community.
Juneteenth is a federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The celebration takes place outdoors from 2 to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Limited seating is offered. Lawn chairs or blankets for additional outdoor seating are recommended.
Admission is free.
The event has received generous support from the Side Door Jazz Club and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the federal ARPA program.
The Old Lyme Witness Stones Partnership’s goal is to expand the understanding of local history and honor the humanity and the contributions of those formerly enslaved in the community.
The partnership’s founding members include the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, the Florence Griswold Museum, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, and the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.
Community partners include the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, and the Old Lyme Historical Society.
The Partnership has received generous support from a Health Improvement Collaborative of Southeastern Connecticut (HIC) Partnership Grant for Racial Equity.
Witness Stones Old Lyme is an affiliate of The Witness Stones Project, an organization that seeks to restore the history and honor the humanity of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities.
For further information, visit https://www.witnessstonesoldlyme.org.
In the Middletown Press on June 14, 2022
OLD LYME – The Witness Stones Poets will join the Nat Reeves Quartet in a Juneteenth celebration of jazz and poetry on the lawn of the Florence Griswold Museum 2 p.m., June 18, 96 Lyme St.
The poems commemorate 14 African-descended persons once enslaved in Old Lyme, according to a new release.
Historians are remembering the lives of those who were enslaved in Old Lyme.
Now, 30 brass plaques known as Witness Stones can be found along Lyme Street and McCurdy Road as a way to recognize both enslaved African and Native Americans and sites of enslavement in Old Lyme.
According to Witness Stones Old Lyme, more than 200 African and Native Americans were brought over to the town of Lyme between 1670 and 1820, which then included Lyme, Old Lyme and parts of East Lyme and Salem. Continue reading.
During the event at Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, community members, Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School students and organizers gathered for music, poetry and remarks in remembrance of those residents. Continue reading.
On LymeLine.com on June 3, 2022
OLD LYME – The Old Lyme Witness Stones Project is installing 16 new Witness Stones—historical plaques commemorating the lives of enslaved and indentured African Americans and Native Americans, who labored in the historic town of Lyme. The plaques will be placed on Lyme St. and McCurdy Rd. in Old Lyme. Continue reading.
Friday, June 3, 2022
Hosted by Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School at
The Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library
2 Library Lane, Old Lyme, Connecticut
The community is invited to gather on the Lawn of the Old Lyme Library to celebrate the second installation of Witness Stones on Lyme Street, extending this year to McCurdy Road. The program will include music, poetry, and words from community partners and guest speakers. World-renowned soprano Lisa Williamson and acclaimed saxophonist and U.S. Coast Guard Band conductor Richard Wyman will provide music. Twelve members of the Old Lyme Middle School chorus, led by Laura Ventres, will also contribute to the program. Seventh-grade students from the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School will read biographical poems they wrote to tell the life stories of Harry Freeman and Margaret Crosley Lewia. Using primary documents, the students researched these two enslaved town residents, making the story of local slavery tangible, personal, and relevant to their own lives.
Poetry Reading: Long-Silenced Voices
Co-sponsored with Ridgefield Community Partners
April 23, 2022 · 2 – 4 p.m.
The Meetinghouse, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Inspired by the Witness Stones Old Lyme Project, which honors those once enslaved in the community by researching their histories and placing memorial plaques at the site of their servitude, four esteemed poets give voice to those long denied their humanity.
Join us in the historic Meetinghouse as Marilyn Nelson, Antoinette Brim-Bell, Kate Rushin, and Rhonda Ward share powerful poems depicting the lives of enslaved men, women, and children, reimagined from the research of historian Carolyn Wakeman.
The reading will be held at the Meetinghouse, 605 Ridgebury Road, Ridgefield, CT 06877.