Connecticut played a big role in slavery and the Holocaust...but most of us don't know about it.
First, a powerful New London merchant and ship owner sailed his ships to West Africa and the Caribbean for more than 40 years during the late 18th century to trade in slaves whose labor lined the pockets of his most respected family.
Here's a little bit of Civil War history that seems to have started here in Connecticut. It was in this month of February in 1860 that Cassius Clay, a Kentucky planter turned anti-slavery crusader spoke in Hartford not far from where we're doing this show today. He was accompanied by a torch-bearing honor guard in capes and caps. The Hartford Courant called these young men "wide-awakes."Â
As my friend Alex Beam said today,Â 12 Years a SlaveÂ has a way of taking things that were abstractions and making them real. It's one thing to talk about abolition, another to see the essential need for it.Â Even a figure like John Brown, says Alex, looks different when you see the true carnage of slavery.
We're talking about this astonishing new Steve McQueen movie today on The Nose and we'll find it pretty easy I predict.
Itâ€™s argued that no one can do as good of a job of portraying President Lincoln on film as Daniel Day-Lewis.Â
Lincoln, the movie, is up for 12 Academy Awards. But weeks before the Oscars, Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney is asking the studio to alter an inaccuracy that puts Connecticut on the wrong side of the slavery debate.
The presidency of Barack Obama has been a milestone in Americaâ€™s history of race: from a country whose Founding Fathers owned slaves to a black man in the White House.
But while the Obamas are seen as the first African American â€śfirst familyâ€ť - their own racial history is much more complex.
NY Times reporter Rachel Swarns details the complexity of the first ladyâ€™s ancestral history in her book,Â American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama.
There's an oft-cited quote from John Adams writing in 1808, after his presidency. "Connecticut has always been governed by an aristocracy, more decisively than the empire of Great Britain. Half a dozen, or at most, a dozen families have controlled that country when a colony, as well as since it has been a state."Â