Amistad in Connecticut: Black History Month

Black History Month in Connecticut should be noted, especially since our state was the location for some key events of the Amistad incident. A short summary of the events from the Connecticut’s Amistad Trail description at VisitConnecticut.com follows:

“In 1839, 53 Africans who were bound for slavery in Cuba aboard the ship Amistad took over the vessel under the leadership of Joseph Cinque. Although Cinque insisted that the ship be returned to Africa and he and his compatriots to their homes, the crew instead sailed into Long Island Sound, where the boat was taken into New Haven by the United States Navy.”

“What followed was a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully argued by former American President John Quincy Adams. Adams argued, and the court agreed, that all human beings were naturally free people and entitled to that freedom under American law. Subsequently, the Africans were freed and they chose to return to Sierra Leone.”

In Hartford, the Wadsworth Atheneum has an exhibit through Feb. 28 2010, Digging Deeper, “to highlight the common threads between historical characterizations of race and present-day conceptions of African American culture.” Throughout the year, the Atheneum’s Amistad Center Collection offers a thoughtful opportunity to explore the issues of race with art. Also in Hartford through March 25, 2010 at the Connecticut Historical Society is Amistad: A True Story of Freedom, “This highly sensory, award-winning, multi-media exhibition explores the Africans’ struggle for freedom following the 1839 revolt on the ship Amistad and the Connecticut people in New London, New Haven, Hartford, and Farmington who helped them achieve it.”

New Haven is the location of Amistad America, an internationally recognized non-profit educational organization. The Amistad is currently in Bermuda on its Caribbean Heritage Tour. The 10th Anniversary of Amistad’s launching will be held at Mystic Seaport on March 25, 2010.

Discovery Education has many media resources on the topic of Black History. Particularly of interest for this entry is Revolt Aboard the Amistad from American History: Abolishing Slavery in America.

History in Connecticut is alive and well. Our students’ understanding of race and culture are raised through exploring these exhibits and others.

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