Ready or not, Black History Month at Yale’s Afro-American Cultural Center promises to deliver the goods. And despite how New Haveners may have been made to feel in the past, all events will be open to the public.
This revived commitment to the New Haven community comes from Dean Risë Nelson, the New Haven-raised director of Afro-American Cultural Center (Af-Am House) who is in her third year at the helm.
In 1825 in Litchfield, Conn., William Grimes wrote and published the story of his life as a slave and of his subsequent escape to freedom.
Almost two centuries later, his great-great-great-granddaughter Regina Mason picked up where her pioneering ancestor left off, with a book, a documentary and her own story of self-discovery through a rigorous commitment to her family’s past.
On Monday night at the New Haven Museum, Mason and filmmaker Sean Durant presented Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes, a new documentary about Mason’s 15-year pursuit to research, publish and celebrate the life of a family member (and former New Haven resident) who wrote the first autobiographical slave narrative.
Cornel West got Black History Month going in New Haven with a challenge for people to love — not a polite kind of love, but the kind that speaks truth to power and makes people uncomfortable during “the bleakest moment” since the 1860s for the civil rights struggle.
Standing in front of a movie screen on Thursday night at ConnCAT in Science Park, filmmaker Frank Mitchell recognized a lot of familiar faces in the small but attentive crowd who had come to see Unsung Heroes, his movie about New Haven’s jazz scene.
“There are folks in the audience who can tell the entire story themselves,” he said.
And soon enough, Allen “Rubbs” Williams, former bartender at the Monterey Club on Dixwell Avenue, would watch a slightly younger version of himself on the screen talk about the history and legacy of New Haven jazz — and offer some insight about how that history might shape the city’s future.
When activist Bree Newsome climbed into the history books by scaling a flagpole on the South Carolina statehouse grounds and removing the Confederate flag, many people assumed that one very fed up black woman had taken spontaneous action.
New Haven State Rep. Robyn Porter didn’t play to the crowd at Saturday’s Women’s March in Hartford. She instead challenged the crowd — to examine its own actions toward black women along with Donald Trump’s actions.
On the day that slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 89 years old, hundreds of New Haveners gathered to celebrate his legacy of racial and economic justice, and to extend that legacy to the current fight for immigrant rights.
In one room, dozens of children learned martial arts techniques, while children in an auditorium rhythmically clapped their hands and stomped their feet as they tried to get the hang of stepping. In yet another room, people learned about local government and voter registration.
In these ways, New Haveners at Wexler-Grant School honored what would have been the 89th birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
President Donald Trump’s policies and especially his recent “shithole” statements about Africa and Haiti inspired the 150 people who prayed and hit the streets for New Haven’s 48th annual Martin Luther King Day “Love March.”
No, they didn’t agree with Trump’s statements. They statements gave them renewed energy to carry on King’s fight for racial and social justice.