January 12: Lifelong Civil Rights Champion Mary Townsend Seymour

  Born in Hartford in 1873, lifelong civil rights activist Mary Townsend lost both her parents at the age of 15, and was adopted into the family of local black activist and Civil War veteran Lloyd Seymour.  A few years later, she married one of his sons, Frederick Seymour, and the newlyweds settled in the…

November 23: Connecticut’s First African-American Civil War Regiment

  In late May of 1863, nearly six months after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared that all black men and women in slave-holding Confederate states were free, the Federal government created the Bureau of Colored Troops, effectively authorizing the use of black troops throughout the Union Army. While some Northern states quickly raised their…

November 13: One of the 20th Century’s Greatest Speeches – “Freedom or Death”

  Invited by celebrated architect and socialite Theodate Pope, and introduced by the equally well-placed and notably outspoken Katherine Houghton Hepburn, a militant English suffragist took the stage at Hartford’s Parson Theatre today in 1913, and delivered what is now regarded as one of the greatest speeches of the twentieth-century.  Emmeline Pankhurst, whose unwavering advocacy…

October 16: The United States’ First African-American Diplomat

  Today in 1833, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett was born near Litchfield, Connecticut to free black parents who held prominent roles in Connecticut’s free black community. Bassett’s father was a businessman who had served as one of Connecticut’s Black Governors — an honorary leadership role in the state’s black community — and his grandfather was…

October 1: Toward a More Perfect Union

  On October 1, 2005, Connecticut became the third state in the union to legally recognize same-sex civil unions. Four years earlier, Vermont became the first state to do so after the Vermont Supreme Court mandated that denying same-sex couples the benefits of marriage violated their state constitution. In 2004, Massachusetts’s Supreme judicial court similarly…

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…

July 29: A Determined Minister Swims for Justice

  In 1926, a group of eastern Connecticut investors hoping to capitalize on the state’s new car culture, expanding highway system, and Roaring 20’s prosperity, purchased a large spring-fed wetland in Andover Connecticut. They cleared trees, cut roads, and built the 550 foot-long dam that created beautiful Andover Lake. When it was completed in 1928,…

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”…

May 25: First He Invented the Soap Opera. Then He Entered Politics.

  When Chester Bowles and his friend William Benton founded the Benton and Bowles ad agency in 1929, they had two accounts and 12 thousand dollars. Seven years later – in the midst of the Great Depression – it was the sixth largest ad agency in America, with annual billing of over 10 million dollars….