ORIGIN OF THE PENNINGTON LECTURE

Memorializing the legacy of Talcott Street Church

Students w Faith members original pulpitIn the spring of 2020, a team of four students (Aliyah Freeman-Johnson, Julian Hogan, and Armani Parnther from Capital, and Mercy Unoh from Trinity College) conducted a project for the Liberal Arts Action Lab, a community action research partnership between Capital and Trinity. Setting out to create an online exhibit on the history of the Talcott Street Congregational Church, they declared:

We, the Action Lab Team: students of Capital Community and Trinity Colleges, have come together to commemorate the legacy of the Talcott Street Church and bring to light events within early Connecticut history which were influenced by the church within its time.

Students Researching at CHSShocked to learn that the center of Hartford’s Black community in the 19th century is currently an unmarked space in a defunct parking garage, the students set about researching its history in published material and local archives. The Action Lab group proposed a list of recommended strategies for the Hartford Heritage Project at Capital to bring the remarkable history of the first Black church and school for Black children in Hartford out of the shadows and into the lived experience of students, staff, and faculty at CT State Capital.

Mercy and Aliyah Stowe Center archivesUsing the list of recommendations proposed by Aliyah, Julian, Armani, and Mercy, the college applied for a $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to put three strategies into action: an exhibit on the Talcott Street Church and School (The Nutmeg Pulpit), a new curriculum for students to encounter this remarkable history of Black community in Hartford (The Black Heritage Project), and an annual lecture that brings prominent speakers to Hartford to address issues of race and justice (The Pennington Lecture) named after the Reverend James WC Pennington.

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