Black History

February is Black History Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

Searchable Museum

The National Museum of African American History & Culture

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) launched its newest digital initiative, the Searchable Museum. The Searchable Museum reaches beyond the walls of the museum to provide a rich digital experience that includes a multimedia presentation of NMAAHC’s historical narratives, collections and educational resources.

Black History in Connecticut

Connecticut is rich with Black history and stories of the trailblazing efforts that African American people have contributed to American History. With such abundant history comes many ways to celebrate it, especially during February for Black History Month.

Connecticut Public Radio: The Hidden Black History of Connecticut. Host Khalilah Brown Dean looks at how Black Americans helped shape Connecticut’s History.

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” —Franklin Thomas, first Black president and CEO of the Ford Foundation

“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.” —Maya Angelou

“The thing about Black history is that the truth is so much more complex than anything you could make up.” —Henry Louis Gates, professor, historian, filmmaker, literary critic

“Truth is powerful and it prevails.” —Sojourner Truth

Russell Library African American Oral History Collection

recorded in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial celebration

Please note: We are in the process of digitizing the audio tapes. They will be uploaded as they become available.

Mrs. Cleo Banks
Mrs. Banks talks about education, housing, and employment.


Dean Edgar Beckham
Mr. Beckham talks about his experiences as a student at Wesleyan.

Jerome Byrd
Mr. Byrd describes opening his own business in Middletown.


Anne Cooper
Ms. Cooper talks about finding employment in Middletown and bringing her family here one at a time from South Carolina.

Listen to the Cooper Interview

by Artist Name

Mrs. Charlotte Crampton
Mrs, Crampton speaks of growing up in Middletown.


Mrs. Sally Davage (with excerpts her husband, William Davage, recorded prior to his death)
Mrs. Davage talks about her experiences as a candidate for the Master of Arts program at Wesleyan.

Barbara Davidson
Ms. Davidson discusses working in Middletown and being the only black member of the Board of Education at that time.

James M. Davidson
Mr. Davidson talks about relocating to Middletown from Florida and the challenges he faced.


Mrs. John Davis
Mr. and Mrs. Davis discuss social life in Middletown and what it was like trying to get a job.


Mrs. Annabelle Graham
Mrs. Graham talks about employment, housing, and politics in Middletown.


Caroline Hatcher
Ms. Hatcher speaks about being the director of the Head Start program in  Middletown.

Edward Jackson
Mr. Jackson speaks of being the co-founder of the Portland-Middletown branch of the NAACP.

Sam Johnson
Mr. Johnson talks about being one of the owners of the ARCO gas station in Middletown.

Carl L. McKeller
Mr. McKeller talks about coming to Middletown and being elected Constable.

Mr. and Mrs. McRae
Mr. and Mrs. McRae discuss relocating to Middletown from South Carolina.

Willard McRae, part 1
Mr. McRae talks about being the director of the Mental Health Community Center and a Councilman.

Willard McRae, part 2
Mr. McRae speaks about politics in Middletown.

James Moody
Mr. Moody talks about moving to Middletown and living through the depression.

Mrs. John Alford Sanders and her daughter Mrs. Martha Robinson
Mrs. Sanders’ talks of relocating from South Carolina to Middletown.

William Sneed, Sr.
Mr. Sneed speaks about his life in Middletown and his profession.

Richard Thompson
At that time, Mr. Thompson was the only black principal in Middletown, at Bielefield Elementary School.

Reverend Lorenzo Woods
Rev. Woods discusses the formation of the Shiloh Church.

Mrs. Hattie Wright
Mrs. Wright talks about the creation of the Zion Baptist Church.

More Resources

Russell Library

123 Broad Street
Middletown CT 06457




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