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New Canaan Library, New Canaan Museum & Historical Society, New Canaan Community Foundation, and the Interfaith Council introduce an important series to address our community’s understanding of race and racism. “The Start of Change: Addressing Racism,” is a six-part series, designed to bring our community together in developing a common understanding of the history, policy and experiences shaping present day discussions of race. New Canaan residents, organizations and leaders are being encouraged to participate in this important initiative. “The Start of Change” series is also supported by the generosity of community partner Grace Farms Foundation.

Respected academics, authors and policy experts will address multiple topics related to race relations in America. The series will be followed by facilitated discussions to explore creative and meaningful action steps relevant for our community.
“The History of Slavery and Race in Colonial New England,” begins the series, presented on Tuesday, September 15 at 7 PM by Justene Hill Edwards, PhD, assistant professor in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia. Zoom sign in information is provided upon registration; please register at newcanaanlibrary.org. Please visit newcanaanlibrary.org for a full schedule; please register individually for each session in the series.
The traditional narrative of colonial New England is one of Puritan colonists fleeing religious persecution in England in search of new lands where they could exercise their religious traditions free from tyranny. Ironically, that freedom did not always extend to others. Puritan religious beliefs, and their plans for survival, were not at odds with slavery. In fact, enslaved African and indigenous labor was a visible aspect of life in colonial New England. Though the number of enslaved people in New England was not on par with the number of enslaved Africans in the Southern colonies, the existence of slavery in colonial New England cannot be ignored. Professor Edwards will explore this complex history of slavery and discuss how the experiences of enslaved people in New England shaped their fight for freedom into the 19th century.
Justene Hill Edwards is an assistant professor in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia. A scholar of African-American history, Hill Edwards specializes in the history of slavery and the history of capitalism in the United States. She received her doctorate in history from Princeton University, holds an MA in African New World studies from Florida International University, and a BA in Spanish from Swarthmore College. Hill Edwards’ first book is Unfree Markets: The Slaves’ Economy and the Rise of Capitalism in South Carolina (forthcoming, March 2021 on Columbia University Press, in the Columbia Series in the History of U.S. Capitalism).

The Chamber is a Proud partner of this Event

Link to First Session