Greetings! Here's a news item about the Hartford House that I thought
might be of interest. We're proud as punch. -- Steve Courtney
The Mark Twain House is Named to the Connecticut Freedom Trail, Which
Commemorates Important State Sites in the Struggles of African Americans
The Connecticut Freedom Trail Planning Committee has voted to include
the Mark Twain House in its prestigious list of sites deeply important
to the history of African Americans in Connecticut.
In the words of Committee Chairman Alfred L. Marder, the home of
America's iconic author fulfills the Connecticut Freedom Trail's
requirement: that designated sites commemorate "efforts made against
slavery and the legacy of slavery, and against racism in general."
It was agreed that the efforts of Samuel L. Clemens -- Mark Twain -- in
this regard are a major factor in American literature and history.
Committee members noted in particular his help for Connecticut's State
Heroine, Prudence Crandall, persecuted for her attempt to teach African
American girls in her school in Canterbury, and his financial support of
Warner McGuinn, the African American student at Yale Law School who went
on to mentor Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme
Jeffrey L. Nichols, Executive Director of The Mark Twain House & Museum,
said: "We are deeply honored at this recognition of Twain's role in the
fight for racial tolerance in America." Nichols noted the contribution
of Twain's seminal work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to the cause of
humanity and equality in Connecticut, the nation and the world.
"He depicted the terrible American moral flaw of slavery in a way that
personalized it and brought it home," said Nichols. "He put a young
abused white boy together with an escaped slave, on a raft on the
Mississippi, and turned them into two of the most memorable figures in
The honor comes as the museum launches a new exhibit,"A Sound Heart & a
Deformed Conscience," which explores Twain's attitudes toward African
Americans and how they evolved over his lifetime.
As a child and young man in Missouri, Samuel Clemens knew slavery and
racism as part of the accepted landscape. But by his mature years he was
penning not only Huckleberry Finn and the racially charged novel The
Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, but also essays and articles such as "The
United State of Lyncherdom," on the spread of the brutal practive in
late 19th century America, and "King Leopold's Soliloquy," which takes
on colonial oppression in the Congo.
Late in life, Twain wrote of family friend George Griffin (who was
African American and had been the family butler in Hartford): "In some
ways he was my equal, in some others my superior, & besides deep down in
my interior I knew that the difference between any two of those poor
transient things called human beings that have ever crawled around this
world & then hid their little vanities in the compassionate shelter of
the grave was but microscopic, trivial, a mere difference between
The museum's application to be part of the Connecticut Freedom Trail
followed the visit of a Canadian journalist, Marie-Christine Blais. She
was following the Trail for a story for La Presse, the country's largest
French-language newspaper, and was surprised to learn that the museum
was not yet part of it, given the international fame of Twain's stance
The museum has received a plaque to be placed on the site, and will be
added to the Freedom Trail tour map. The vote was taken at the
Connecticut Freedom Trail Planning Committee's February 8 meeting.
The mission statement of the Connecticut Freedom Trail
2X-CACK-dFWEuZ7CfuqaRic8gFk_w==> ) states that the organization
"documents and designates sites that embody the struggle toward freedom
and human dignity, celebrate the accomplishments of the state's African
American community and promote heritage tourism."
The Mark Twain House & Museum joins in this honor its neighbor, the
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center; the Old State House, where the trial of
the Amistad mutineers took place; the site of John Brown's birthplace in
Torrington; the home of Marian Anderson in Danbury; and about 130 other
state sites of interest to African American history.
"A Sound Heart & a Deformed Conscience" may be viewed during regular
museum hours, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to
5:30 p.m. (closed Tuesdays through March) and Sunday from noon to 5:30
p.m. Admission is free with a Mark Twain House tour, or $5.00 for a
On March 29 the exhibit will be joined by a traveling show from Ferris
State University in Michigan called "Hateful Things" -- an exploration
of racist imagery intended to provoke discussion of prejudice. It will
be accompanied by a series of discussions, teacher workshops, talks and
films. Both exhibits are united under the name "Race, Rage and
Redemption." See www.marktwainhouse.com
xAf3Tctr4TBfK9_f8yEDjcIqwmzpA==> for details.
Publicist & Publications Editor
The Mark Twain House & Museum
351 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06105
860-247-0998 Ext. 243
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