Unforgotten: Connecticut’s Hidden History of Slavery

CT Public Radio www.npr.org/podcasts/organizations/s546

It’s a history lesson many of us didn’t get in school: Slavery has deep roots in Connecticut and across New England. Enslaved people helped build the foundation of much of this state. Get to know some of these men and women and the lives they lived. Hear from descendants who reflect on their loved ones. And learn from historians and experts going on a journey of discovery to recover this hidden history. In this five-part episode podcast from Connecticut Public, Reporter/Producer Diane Orson and Editorial Consultant and Curator Frank Mitchell discuss some of the issues in and around these stories.

Visit www.ctpublic.org/unforgotten to learn more, including additional videos, photos and digital stories.

Yale Apologizes for Ties to Slavery in New Report, Pledges List of Actions

Benjamin Hernandez, Yale Daily News, Feb. 19, 2024

University President Peter Salovey and Joshua Bekenstein ’80, senior trustee of the Yale Corporation, [have] issued a formal apology and a set of actions in response to Yale’s ties to slavery.

The announcement came alongside the release of a book titled Yale and Slavery: A History, which is the culmination of the findings made by the Yale and Slavery Working Group. …The book was released in its entirety online:


Yale and Slavery A History Feb2024 David Blight with the Yale and Slavery Research Project.pdf.

In their announcement, Salovey and Bekenstein not only framed the project as a recognition of the University’s role in and association with the institution of slavery, but it also formally apologized for the ways that Yale’s leaders participated in slavery, adding that the findings from the group have “propelled” the University toward actions to address the continued effects of enslavement today. …

A new app will offer self-guided tours with 19 points of interest to help visitors explore the University’s ties to slavery. [You can download the app here: yaleandslavery.yale.edu/special-topic-tour-history-slavery.]…

(Read the full article here: https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2024/02/19/yale-releases-history-on-ties-to-slavery-apologizes-and-pledges-list-of-actions/

Ceasefire Now

by Joan Cavanagh, NH Sunday Vigil for Peace and Justice

November 26, 2023: The actions of the terrorist organization HAMAS on Oct. 7, 2023, were an atrocity, a war crime against innocent civilians, with a death toll of 1,200 people, accompanied by rape and other forms of torture, as well as the taking of hostages. We condemn these actions with horror and without equivocation.

The actions of the Netanyahu government in response, murdering more than 14,000 people, reducing Gaza to rubble, destroying any means by which survivors can treat their wounded and sick, and cutting off their food, water, and access to the outside world, have only amplified that villainy.

Whatever you know, believe, or have been told about the current U.S. funded and supplied Israeli government war on Gaza, or indeed about the history of Israel and Palestine, please recognize that there is no moral, political, ethical, or legal justification for genocide—the deliberate elimination of an entire group of people.

Shamefully, most of our elected officials from the executive branch on down refuse to call this siege what it is and are doing nothing to end it. Indeed, they are voting to continue it by sending money and armaments to further fuel it, even while asking for brief “humanitarian pauses” out of the other sides of their mouths. And, as usual, the arms merchants are making a handsome profit each day the war continues. They are the only beneficiaries of this all-out assault on a population with nowhere to go to escape. This war must end, and it must end now.

The good news is that from all the corners of Earth, there comes a concerted human outcry against this inhumanity. Resistance actions, led by Jewish Voice for Peace and other organizations, are happening all over this country and throughout the world. There have been nonviolent shut-downs, blockades, and takeovers of congressional office buildings, headquarters of war-profiteering companies (including Colt, in Hartford), the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, and many more, involving in total millions of people.

Please find a way to join that outcry. Speak out, write, march, demand accountability from our own government. Here in Connecticut, contact directly—and repeatedly—all of your federal representatives to demand that they act to stop this war. Ignore their perfunctory form letter replies. Keep up the demand, no matter what justifications or evasions that they give. RESIST THIS ENDLESS WAR

Amistad Awards: An Enough Is Enough Moment! Time to Organize!

by Connecticut People’s World Committee

In the midst of a national strike wave with thousands of workers standing up against income inequality and march-ing for housing rights, peace, and climate justice, the People’s World Amistad Awards will hold its annual awards rally on the theme, “It’s An Enough Is Enough Moment! Time to Organize!”

The awards ceremony will be held Saturday, December 9, 2023, at 4 p.m. at the historic First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College St., in New Haven, with a keepsake greeting book. The church is the home to union organizing, including Unite Here Local 34, celebrating its 40th anniversary. A donation of $10 is requested.

In a letter, the committee announced, “People’s World is honored to present the Amistad Award to three wonderful allies and working class champions. Together they represent the kind of unity, solidarity and vision needed to build the movement that can transform our country to put people, peace and planet before profits.”

The three awardees:

Sen. Gary Winfield, a fearless defender of racial, economic and social justice, is always in the forefront with groundbreaking legislation toward equity and a better life for his constituents and all working class people in our state and nation.

Stacie Harris-Byrdsong is the groundbreaking president of AFSCME Council 4 whose courage and leadership is so inspiring as a passionate representative of educators and the needs of children, for equity and economic justice.

Luis Luna is the Husky 4 Immigrants coalition manager whose leadership and dedication for the rights of immigrants as well as an organizer and communicator in many venues, inspires ordinary people to take collective action on their own behalf.

Performance by an Afro-reggae band led by Aklaff Pheeroan, world-renowned artist and outstanding contributor to African-American musical innovations and creative composition, will highlight the program, which is a family event.

The event will stand “IN SOLIDARITY” with the Recovery for All coalition and the Blake St. Tenants Union taking on corporate greed and shifting power to people’s needs and dreams.

This annual event is hosted on the occasion of the 104th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, in the spirit of building unity against racism, red-baiting and all forms of bigotry, and standing for workers rights, equality, peace, democracy, and a better world.

For more information, email [email protected] or visit actionnetwork.org/ticketed_events/2023-peoples-world-amistad-awards?clear_id=true.

Oct. 18 Rally: Hundreds Demand Action to Prevent Genocide of Palestinians

by Shelly Altman, Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven 

Hundreds of Jews and friends of Jews assembled at New Haven City Hall and at the office of Rep. Rosa DeLauro to urge our elected officials to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, and to call on the U.S. government to stop supporting the Israeli military’s genocidal war on Gaza. Talks were delivered on the catastrophe in Gaza caused by Israeli bombing and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Gazans who are trapped in the locked-down Gaza Strip. Letters were delivered to Mayor Justin Elicker and to Rep. DeLauro. The protest was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven and the Mending Minyan Solidarity Committee.

In her remarks, Mikveh Warshaw of the Mending Minyan noted, “We are strong and wise enough to hold up the sacredness of all life; to mourn for our Palestinian and Israeli family, friends, and comrades. It is our sacred task as Jewish people in the US to fight for the humanity of everyone.”

On Friday [Oct. 13], the Israeli military called for all civilians of Gaza City — 1.1. million people — to relocate within 24 hours, as it amassed tanks for an expected ground invasion. The UN said evacuating everyone was impossible with power supplies cut and food and water in the Palestinian enclave running short after Israel placed Gaza under total siege, and said it would have “devastating humanitarian consequences.” The Gaza Health Ministry reported that over 3,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 9,000 have been wounded as of yesterday. A thousand of those killed have been children.

Israel has openly stated an intention to commit mass atrocities and even genocide, with Prime Minister Netanyahu saying the Israeli response will “reverberate for generations.” President Biden has indicated his full support, sending additional weapons to the Israeli military. Today, he planned a highly unusual personal visit in support of the military.

In his remarks, Shelly Altman responded to this, saying, “Never again. The ‘again’ of our lifetimes is underway in Gaza right now. And we refuse to stand by and watch.”

[See newhavenindependent.org/article/never_again_is_now_for_palestinians_warn_new_haven_jews]

Good Jobs Are a Human Right

Sarianna Sabbarese, CT Jobs and Human Rights Task Force

In our lifetimes, we have seen the rapid deterioration of once robust union protections. Even as social conditions have improved for many, economic disparities grow. Despite artificially low criteria for poverty, the threadbare American social safety net creaks and groans. We watch in anxious horror as a new cast of hard-right chaos agents in-filtrate Washington’s highest offices, wondering if democracy is on the brink of collapse. What can we do― besides shop―to hop off this doom spiral? Even if we feel driven to create a better future, where do we begin?

In 2021, Sarianna Sabbarese and Dr. Stephen Tomczak worked as representatives of the National Jobs For All Network to organize a Town Hall Meeting, holding these concerns and sentiments in mind. NJFAN has long operated as the premiere organization in the United States seeking to advance Full Employment via a large-scale, direct government job creation program: the jobs agenda to which FDR aspired when he called for a “second, economic Bill of Rights.”

The Town Hall explored the economic and social justice work of many different representatives from the New Haven community―including educators, students, activists, and people with lived experience of economic and social inequities―and the intersections of that work with Full Employment. It was a meeting place and a reminder that, despite necessarily limited sets of personal priorities, all present were engaged in a single, shared project.

Out of this event, the Connecticut Jobs and Human Rights Task Force formed, organized by macro social work practitioners Jennifer Perez and Sarianna Sabbarese, and advised by Logan Martinez and Dr. Stephen Tomczak. The group works to advance the right of people across the state to living wage remuneration, laying local infrastructure for direct government job creation so that jobs are created where they are actually needed―and not merely to serve the interests of wealthy individuals and corporations. As a group built on the supposition that economic justice is the bedrock on which social justice rests, they are committed to interjecting people-oriented priorities into economic policy.

If you are interested in joining the Task Force, please email Jennifer Perez ([email protected]) or Sarianna Sabbarese ([email protected])

A Reading for Al-Mutanabbi Street Sunday, March 5

Sunday, March 5, 3 p.m.

On the anniversary of the 2007 bombing of the booksellers’ market in Baghdad, and in defiance of the ongoing attacks throughout the world, including the United States, against reading and readers, excerpts from the anthology “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” will be read by Daisy C. Abreu and Stephen Vincent Kobasa.

This event is free and open to the public and begins at 3 p.m. at
Best Video Film and Cultural Center
1842 Whitney Ave, Hamden

Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide Confronts MAS Advocates at the State Capitol

by Joan Cavanagh, Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide

Seven members of the core group of Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide (PAMAS) attended a press conference sponsored by Sen. Saud Anwar, Co-Chair of the Public Health Committee, and Compassion and Choices, the well-funded advocacy group for legalization of MAS, on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Legislative Office Building. They held signs identifying the group, passed out leaflets, spoke to news reporters, and had several conversations with legislators and family members who also support MAS. They were joined by a few members of Second Thoughts Connecticut, a non-partisan disability justice organization.

Before the press conference, PAMAS sent emails to all members of the Public Health Committee, with the following text:

Dear Members of the Public Health Committee, We extend our sincere condolences on the shocking and tragic death of Rep. Quentin Williams of Middletown. …

We also offer best wishes for a productive legislative session in which the Public Health Committee will address important healthcare needs and hopefully put forward policies that truly make universal, comprehensive, unrestricted healthcare available to all. We are members of Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide. We strongly support health care for all, disability justice, reproductive rights, and the rights of LGBTQIA people. We equally strongly oppose Medical Assisted Suicide, called by its proponents “physician aid in dying.”

From our own experiences and those of others, we know that there are no “safeguards” that can be put in place to mitigate the danger that the legalization of this practice poses to the disabled, the elderly, the poor or anyone vulnerable in our current medical system.

As citizens of Connecticut and thus as your constituents, we request that you spend this session on legislation to expand quality healthcare access for all, including healthcare support at home for those who require it.

Please do not advance any legislation that would empower the medical system to terminate patients’ lives or prescribe drugs to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide


[email protected]

There are now two MAS bills pending before the Public Health Committee. Please write your representatives and senators and tell them to vote NO.

Joan Cavanagh, member of Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide, Second Thoughts Connecticut, and the New Haven Sunday Vigil for Peace and Justice.

Immigrant Workers Respond to New DHS Immigrant Whistleblower Policy

by Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción

As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new immigrant workers rights policy, representatives of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Immigrant Work hosted a national press call on Jan. 13 to respond to the new DHS policy, explain how it came about, and what it means for undocumented immigrant workers in the United States.

“This policy came about because of the workers in Connecticut, Mississippi, Georgia, and beyond, who organized and fought against wage theft, sexual harassment, deadly conditions, and workplace ICE raids,” said John Jairo Lugo, Director of Unidad Latina en Acción CT, in a rally with Mayor Justin Elicker in New Haven City Hall Jan. 12. “The real work begins today. This policy will only become a reality if our local and national leaders say it loud and clear: We will stand up for you when you report exploitation, instead of detaining and deporting you.”

“The threat of deportation is like a gun in the boss’s hand, pointed at workers and their rights,” said Yale Law School professor James Bhandary-Alexander, Jan. 12 in New Haven City Hall, calling on President Biden to announce the policy publicly. “Today President Biden could grab that gun right from the boss’s hand.”

People taking part in the national press call included workers, attorneys and organizations advancing first pilot cases of immigrant whistleblower protections from Las Vegas, Nevada; Jackson, Mississippi; and Gainesville, Georgia.

For more about the campaign, go to

Background about the DALE Campaign

To interview CT workers: Megan Fountain, 203-479-2959, [email protected]

For national: Erik Villalobos, 202-643-7348, [email protected]

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Gathers Community

by Danielle Campbell, The Arts Paper, Oct. 14, 2022

Rachel Massaro stepped forward, her purple hair and clothing vibrant in the afternoon light. She took in the circle of people around her, the ground firm beneath her feet. The smell of sage hung low in the air, sweetgrass and turkey feathers laid out nearby. Sentence by sentence, she wove through a history of residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women, of children fleeing with their parents. A history that had yet to be taught—and learned from—in Connecticut and across the country.

Rachel Massaro (in purple) with her children and Clement during ritual smudging. — Danielle Campbell Photo

A member of the Northern Cheyenne and Saponi tribes, Massaro was one of roughly 30 people to attend an observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day Wednesday afternoon, held on the New Haven Green now annually. As in previous years, it was organized by Norman Momowetu Clement, a New Haven member of the Penobscot nation and a confederate member of the Quinnipiac tribe.

He said he’d chosen Wednesday—rather than Monday—because many still observe Oct. 12 as Columbus Day. It marks the day in 1492 when Columbus landed in what is now recognized as the Caribbean, beginning the mass rape and murder of Indigenous Taíno people.

“We’re trying to do away with Columbus,” he said. “So, unless you’re fighting to get that change to have Indigenous Peoples’ Day, then you shouldn’t be celebrating that day. One has to cancel out the other. We’re not going to be canceled out. We fought too hard to be canceled.”

For Clement, that fight is personal. Decades ago, his own father was adopted by a white family ostensibly trying to “better” Indigenous children, he said. In his father’s case, that meant hiding his culture and history from him. Growing up in that environment, Clement did not know he was Indigenous until he was 35 years old. His father never spoke of it because he was taught not to. He didn’t know what tribe his father was from until he started searching for answers.

[Entire article can be read at www.newhavenarts.org/arts-paper/articles/indigenous-peoples-day-gathers-community]


Roe Reversal Protest Slams Supreme Court 

by Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, June 24, 2022

Hundreds of abortion rights protesters filled the federal courthouse steps downtown to decry the U.S. Supreme Court’s “outrageous” and ​“unacceptable” overturning of Roe v. Wade.

That rally took place Friday afternoon [June 24] on the steps and sidewalk outside of 141 Church St. Organized by a coalition of social justice activists and faith leaders called the New Haven Reproductive Justice Mobilization, the protest slammed the top court’s 6 – 3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the 50-year-old precedent set in Roe that established a constitutional right to abortion.

Thomas Breen Photo

“The court has stripped away the freedom and agency of millions, especially Black, brown and indigenous women, girls, LGBT, and gender-nonconforming people,” said local immigrant rights activist Kica Matos, who emceed Friday’s protest. “The court has so brazenly chosen to set the clock back in this, the 21st Century … This ruling is about power. It is about control. And it is about taking away our freedoms. To this ruling, I say: ​‘Hell, no! We will not go back!’ ”

Read the entire article at newhavenindependent.org/article/roe_reversal_protest

The 18 minute video of the June 24 Reproductive Rights Rally is at https://youtu.be/bZ-OiIUa2BU



100 Rally for Abortion Rights

by Maya McFadden, New Haven Independent, May 4, 2022

In the wake of a reported pending U.S. Supreme Court decision to outlaw Roe v. Wade, New Haven activists are demanding that the nation follow in the footsteps of countries like Colombia, Argentina, and Mexico where abortion is a protected human right.

Those cries from protesters echoed over the New Haven Green Tuesday during a city rally calling for “Safe and Legal Abortion “and “Bans Off Our Bodies” organized by Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), Workers’ Voice CT, and Socialist Revolution.

More than 100 demonstrators stood on the steps of the federal courthouse on 141 Church St. to protest the recent draft of a majority opinion written by conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito suggesting that the nation strike down Roe, which established a federal constitutional right to an abortion. If the court issues that decision in final form, abortion will become largely illegal or access greatly restricted in states throughout the nation.

Leading the speaking program were ULA organizers Rosalba Montoya, Megan Fountain, and Nayeli Garcia.

The rally leaders reminded the crowd of the mass protests in Poland, Ireland, Colombia, Argentina, and Mexico in recent years that resulted in laws allowing safe access to abortions for all.

Together the crowd chanted: “Abortion is a human right,” “Health care is a human right,” “Mi cuerpo, mi decisión” (“My body, my choice”), “What do we want? Free abortion. When do we want it? Now!”

Speakers included a “pro-choice gynecologist,” nursing students, and others, some of whom told stories about being assaulted and needing to get an abortion as a result. Dozens took the microphone one by one in support of free, safe, and legal abortion for their friends and families.

Party for Socialism and Liberation member Kirill Staklo took the mic to add that “we need a new system that defends people’s human rights.”

“And in the state of Connecticut, where we might feel safe, this [decision], if it happens the way that it is threatening to be happening, sets a very dangerous precedent for anybody who cares about privacy and anybody who cares about bodily autonomy,” Staklo added. “No Supreme Court is supreme enough to be supreme over the law of the people.”

[To read the whole article, go to newhavenindependent.org/article/abortion_rights_rally]

May Day! Sunday, May 1, 12-6 p.m. New Haven Green

by Unidad Latina en Acción

United we are powerful! This May Day we are inviting all struggles to join us on the New Haven Green. It’s time to work together so that another world is possible:

  • Immigration reform now
  • Recovery for all
  • More money for education
  • Abolish solitary confinement
  • No to war
  • No to wage theft

Participate, so we can have a great May Day!!!

SUNDAY, MAY 1, 12 – 4 p.m. – Music, food, speakers, kids’ activities, and more!
4–6 p.m. — March for our rights!

Contact 203-606-3484, https://ulanewhaven.org, facebook.com/ULANewHaven.

Thank You, Senator Mae Flexer

by Joan Cavanagh, Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide

Senate Bill 88, An Act Concerning Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Patients, was defeated on April 11 by a 5-4 vote of Senators on the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature. Sen. Mae Flexer, a progressive Democrat from the 29th District, cast the tie-breaking fifth “No” vote. Flexer has consistently fought against cuts to much-needed social programs and has a stellar record as a champion of reproductive and women’s rights, the rights of immigrants, and the right to comprehensive health care coverage.

In a long conversation after the fact, the Senator explained that she sees her opposition as consistent with her commitment to protecting the vulnerable, heightened by her experience as the mother of a one-year-old daughter and the child of a disabled Vietnam veteran concerned about her father’s ongoing health care. She understands the threat that this legislation would be to those among us who are already marginalized by the medical system’s prejudices and cost-cutting mandates.

It isn’t often that we find someone in politics who is willing to vote their conscience and to face censure and criticism for doing so. Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide urges readers to write to thank Sen. Flexer for this courageous vote. You can do so on the message page of her website, http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/Flexer-contact, and/or at her government email address [email protected], or by a phone call to the office of her legislative aide, Isabella Langlois, 860-240-8634.

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