September 12: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Teenage Summer in Simsbury

  Years before he became an internationally famous orator and civil rights leader, young Martin Luther King, Jr. worked a number of jobs to make ends meet for his family. During the summer of 1944, after he gained early admission to Morehouse College at the age of 15, he journeyed north from Georgia to the…

August 25: The State’s First POW From An Undeclared War Comes Home

  In the late evening hours of August 25, 1953, a motorcade carrying Corporal John H. F. Teal pulled into Hartford’s North End, where a small crowd of family and friends were eagerly gathered to welcome him home. Teal had just been returned to the United States after spending 32 months in a Korean prison…

August 24: U. S. Navy Intercepts “The Long, Low Black Schooner” Amistad

  In early 1839, Portuguese slave traders captured dozens of native Mende Africans from the territory of modern-day Sierra Leone — technically, in violation of several international treaties — and sold them to two Spaniards in the slave markets of Havana, Cuba. On July 1, while en route to nearby plantations aboard the Spaniards’ schooner…

June 27: Prudence Crandall Arrested & Jailed

  In 1831, Prudence Crandall, with the support and approval of the local citizenry, opened the Canterbury Female Boarding School to educate daughters of wealthy Eastern Connecticut families. After a successful inaugural year, Crandall received a request from 20-year-old Sarah Harris, the daughter of a prosperous free African-American farmer and his wife, to attend the…

June 17: The First Black Playwright To “Take a Giant Step” to Broadway

  Award-winning playwright and filmmaker Louis Peterson spent his career creating dramatic stories that explored conflict and relationships especially as they turned around issues of race. He achieved a number of firsts, becoming the first Black playwright to have his work produced on Broadway and one of the first Black Emmy nominees – but before…

June 11: UCONN’s 1st Black Basketball Player

  Harrison “Honey” Fitch, arrived on the University of Connecticut (then Connecticut State College) in the fall of 1932 and he made a solid impression, fast. Fitch, the first Black basketball player for the University of Connecticut (then Connecticut State College) and at the time the only Black student,  had already earned the nickname “Honey” for…

April 26: Sarah Boone Gets a Patent For a Better Way to Iron

  Today in 1892, African American inventor Sarah Boone of New Haven patented an ironing board, which was the precursor to the modern appliance residing in many of our homes today. When Sarah Boon was living in New Haven, the fashion of the time was for women to wear corsets. Since the late-1800s, New Haven…

February 9: Connecticut’s 1st African-American Congressman

  Today in 1953, future Congressman Gary A. Franks was born in Waterbury, the youngest of six children in a family of limited means. His parents put a high value on education, and all six of their children went to college, and three obtained doctoral degrees. Gary was an All State high school basketball player…

January 26: The Talented — and Quite Regrettable — Postmaster General

  Today in 1802, Gideon Granger of Suffield took office as the nation’s fourth postmaster general, ushering in a new era for the U.S. postal service — for better and for worse. A Yale graduate, Granger practiced law in his hometown of Suffield and served in the Connecticut General Assembly beginning in 1792. Following an…

January 19: Connecticut’s First African-American Woman Pharmacist

  Born in Hartford on January 19, 1886, young Anna Louise James was the eighth of 11 children born to Willis James, a former slave who had successfully escaped from a Virginia plantation via the Underground Railroad. As a child, Anna’s family moved from Hartford to Old Saybrook, where she graduated high school and, as…