Please read the recently published feature article by Jenifer Frank and published by Teaching Tolerance: Bearing Witness to the Hard History of Guilford.
Teaching Tolerance is on a mission is to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy.
Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Educators use our materials to supplement the curriculum, to inform their practices, and to create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued and welcome participants. The program emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. The Witness Stones Project is funded in part by Connecticut Humanities, The Guilford Foundation, and by our membership.
Bearing Witness to the Hard History of Guilford
Hana started her school paper with a description of Guilford’s town green—and for good reason. The beautiful, centuries-old space is the hub of this Connecticut coastal community. Residents like Hana, who attends Adams Middle School in Guilford, stroll beneath its shade trees, browse at the quaint shops on its perimeter and gather there for the town’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting.
But after alluding to its charm, Hana shifted her focus. “One would hardly believe,” she wrote, “that, centuries ago, this little town square was a stage for slavery.”
Many Americans still consider slavery an exclusively Southern institution. But Hana and her eighth-grade classmates at Adams Middle School are delving into a deeper, more accurate history of their overwhelmingly white New England town.
They learn that, before the Civil War, slavery was practiced in every Northern state. They find out that, in Guilford and other towns like it, ministers, merchants and other wealthy people often enslaved at least one person—sometimes an entire family. And although the number of people enslaved per household was typically smaller in the North than on sprawling Southern plantations, the students come to understand that the motivation for enslavement was identical on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line: to increase profits by exploiting the labor of people held in bondage.
“This lovely town we live in was built on the backs of not only [people enslaved in Guilford], but people in the American South and people in the West Indies,” says Dennis Culliton, the social studies teacher who created the locally focused curriculum. “So the profits, the buildings we live in, this green that’s been preserved, the churches that you see—that’s where that wealth came from.” CONTINUE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Screenshot below from the article:
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHANA SURECK AND IAN CHRISTMANN
Click through to read full article by Jenifer Frank
Jenifer Frank is coauthor and editor of Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited From Slavery, published by Ballantine Books. She was Page 1 editor and then editor of the Sunday magazine at The Hartford Courant and is now a Hartford-based freelance writer and editor.
This project is funded by the Guilford Foundation, Guilford Fund For Education, the Horton Group, Connecticut Humanities, and our membership.