History is Here: Episode 15, Race Relations in Wilton: The Human Values at Stake

Since the town’s earliest colonial days, African Americans have accounted for only a small percentage of Wilton’s population. Several intentional placed obstacles made it difficult or even impossible for minority families to purchase a home, and their impact can still be felt today. At the same time, many individuals recognized the injustices and worked toward solutions to create a more diverse and inclusive community. This episode of History is Here discusses the history of race relations in Wilton and the legacy it has left on the town.

History is Here: Episode 14, The Music in Her Life: The Remarkable Career of Betty Jones

It takes a rare combination of natural talent, hard work, and a little bit of luck to go from singing as a hobby to becoming an international star in just a few short years, especially at the age of 41. However, that’s exactly what opera singer and Wilton resident Betty Jones did, when in 1971, she started singing professionally for the first time. Betty spent the next three decades delighting crowds across the globe, but always found time to give back to the community that helped launch her career.

 

On this episode of History is Here, Associate Curator Nick Foster had an opportunity to speak with the Betty’s daughter Janet Shipp and her husband Eugene “Doug” Jones to discuss the fascinating and unconventional life of the opera star. They shared their thoughts on Betty’s love of music, the hours spent at the Wilton Playshop, as well as being the first African American couple to buy a home in Wilton in 1954.

History is Here: Episode 13, Created in Compromise: A History of the Electoral College & Interview with an Elector

The use of the Electoral College to elect the President of the United States seems to spark controversy every four years. On this episode of History is Here, Wilton Historical Society Associate Curator Nick Foster delves into the complex history of the College as well as interviewing Wilton resident John Kalamarides, who was chosen as one of the electors representing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for Connecticut during the 2020 Presidential Election.

 

Ms. President US

The Wilton Historical Society is proud to partner with Ms President US for the “Girls Lead!” video challenge.

August 18th marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment securing women the right to vote, and to celebrate this centennial,  Ms President US held its “Girls Lead!” video challenge.

The “Girls Lead!” video challenge was open to all girls in 4th thru 8th grades. The 1-3 minutes video prompt was: “As a leader in my town, I would…”

This years winners are:

Mirabel Rodgers, 7th grader at Scotts Ridge Middle School and is from Ridgefield, CT:
Tiger Tough

Gopika Sheth, 6th grader at The Foote School and is from Hamden, CT:
Read, Read, Read” 

This video contest is made possible with generous support from Fairfield County Bank

Ms President US motivates and prepares girls to aim for the highest civic leadership positions, and is a non-partisan, non-profit, community-based 501(c)(3) organization.  For more information about the Ms President US program, participant/mentorship opportunities and enrollment applications, please visit  MsPresidentUS.org.

 

 

Today is Juneteenth

The red, white, and blue Juneteenth flag commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., which came over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

“On June 19th, 1865, General Gordon Granger of the Union Army dispatched this order in Galveston, Texas: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” This announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation-but until the surrender of General Robert E. Lee two months before, there hadn’t been Union troops in Texas to enforce it.

This month, Juneteenth-a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”-celebrations will once again commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S., and some will raise the official banner: a red, white, and blue emblem that “gives all Americans the opportunity to recognize American freedom and African-American history,” according to the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation. The flag was first hoisted in 2000 at the Roxbury Heritage State Park in Boston, Massachusetts, by the foundation’s founder Ben Haith, who also created its design.

Haith, who’s known as Boston Ben, drafted the flag’s inchoate elements in 1997 alongside a host of contributors. To reflect the celebration’s slogan-“a new freedom, a new people, a new star”-the banner included a red arc, blue background, and “a star of Texas bursting with new freedom throughout the land, over a new horizon,” says the foundation.

Then, in 2000, in preparation of that inaugural flag-raising in Boston, illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf lent her expert eye to arrive at the flag’s current design. “As an illustrator, I fine-tuned their vision,” she reflects. Beginning in 2007, the flag would see Graf’s iteration occasionally emblazoned with the historic date “June 19th, 1865.”

Though efforts to make Juneteenth a federal holiday are ongoing, it is currently recognized by 45 states and the District of Columbia.”

 

This excerpted article was written by Duncan Nielsen, and appeared in Dwell on June 16, 2020