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 25: Hartford’s Puerto Rican “Godmother”

  María Colón Sánchez arrived in Hartford at the age of 28 in 1954, one of thousands of Puerto Ricans who moved to Connecticut in search of better economic opportunity during the mid-20th century. Within a few years, she had saved up enough money to open a convenience store, Maria’s News Stand, on Albany Avenue,…

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 5: An Angry Public Protests A Tax Betrayal

  One of the largest protests in Connecticut history took place today in 1991, as tens of thousands of Connecticans gathered on the lawn of the State Capitol in Hartford to call for the repeal of the brand-new state income tax. 1991 was a tumultuous year in state politics; during the summer, legislators repeatedly clashed…

September 14: Connecticut Ratifies the 19th Amendment, One State Too Late. Or Was It?

  Today in 1920, nearly 52 years after they first convened, members of the Connecticut Women’s Suffrage Association watched as the Connecticut General Assembly finally ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving all American women the right to vote. For decades, Connecticut suffragists had picketed, petitioned, and frequently found themselves arrested as they…

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 17: Catherine Flanagan’s Two (Very Different) Trips To Washington

  Today in 1917, 28-year-old Connecticut activist and women’s suffrage advocate Catherine Flanagan was arrested for picketing in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. Flanagan and a small group of fellow suffragists had been picketing for 12 days in the same location, carrying a variety of banners bedecked in purple and gold (the…

August 7: Connecticut Grinds to an Angry Halt

  Today in 1919, Connecticut companies throughout the state were effectively shuttered as thousands of workers across a multitude of different industries joined in a massive regional strike that, within the course of a week, spread from Maine to New York and brought New England commerce to a screeching halt. Connecticut, like many other states…

August 2: Connecticut’s Last Public Hanging

  In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty. For the first 200 years of Connecticut’s history as colony and state,however, public executions with large crowds attending were viewed as an effective deterrent of serious crimes. They were major community events, attracting hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of onlookers to watch 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,…