Code of Silence: Voices of the African Enslaved in 19th Century Connecticut

slave manacle

In this, the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave on American soil, this full-day program will explore the significant place slavery occupied in northern colonies, and particularly in Connecticut in the formidable years of nationhood. While history usually points to slavery as a condition endemic to the South, the plight of African-Americans in our own region is often masked behind a ‘code of silence,’ or obscured by narratives favoring a more generous view of the problem in communities north of the Mason-Dixon Line. And, while events taking place around the seizure of the slave ship Amistad in 1839, and the resulting trial, have been codified by Hollywood film-makers, there are deeper, more resonant stories that deserves to be told.

9:00-9:30- Coffee and Registration

9:30-10:15- Jenifer Frank: "The CT Slavery Story Uncovered,The Hartford Courant  and Investigative Sleuthing"

10:15-11:00- Anne Farrow, Co-Author: "Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery"

11:00-11:15- Break

11:15-12:00- Joan Hedrick [Pulitzer Prize-winning] author of, "Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Abolitionist Movement- A Life Remembered"

12:00-12:15- Q&A

12:15-1:15- Lunch and Book Purchase Opportunity (with Wesleyan University Press and RJ Julia)

1:15- 2:00- Tammy Denease (1st person interpreter) as 19th c. slave,Sarah Margu: Norman Marshall as abolitionist,John Brown

2:00- 2:45- Stacy Close (Eastern Connecticut State Univ., Associate Provost/Vice President for Equity and Diversity): "The Prevalence of Slavery in 19th Century Hartford, CT"

2:45-3:15- Brief Q&A and Break

3:15- 5:00- Panel: Examining Enslavement Today: Human Sex Trafficking, Migrant Labor Exploitation, Prison Sentencing Policy, and Models of Awareness/Action. A panel to include keynote presenters, Anne, Joan, Stacy and Tammy, with the addition of Deborah Shapiro (former director, Middlesex County Historical Society), Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond (WesU senior and honors thesis author on Middletown slave, Silva Storms), and Dennis Culliton (Director, CT Witness Stones Project).

Instructor: Richard Friswell

Saturday, October 5
Location TBD
FREE. Advanced registration required for meeting space and food planning. Please email your intent to attend to:


Richard Friswell
RICHARD J. FRISWELL is a Wesleyan University Visiting Scholar, where he received his MPhil degree and Rulewater Prize for interdisciplinary scholarship in 2014. He is a cultural historian and associate director of the WILL program and managing editor of ARTES, a fine arts e-magazine. He is an elected member of the International Art Critics Association and author of a collection of autobiographical short stories, ‘Balancing Act: Postcards from the Edge of Risk and Reward’ (2016), and ‘Hudson River Chronicles: In Search of the Splendid & Sublime on America’s ‘First’ River’ (2019). He lectures and speaks widely on topics related to modernism, its art, literature, and history.