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The Reign of Black Governors in Connecticut at New Haven Museum

Dr. Kerima Lewis

New Haven, Conn. (January 18, 2022)— You may be familiar with William Lanson, the 19th-century engineer, entrepreneur, and civic leader elected as Black governor in New Haven in 1825 and whose monument was dedicated in 2020. But did you know there were at least 20 Black governors elected in Connecticut in the 18th and 19th centuries? Early-American historian and professor Kerima Lewis will discuss the rich history of Black governors during a virtual presentation for the New Haven Museum (NHM),An Upside-Down World: The Reign of Black Governors in Connecticut,” on Thursday, February 10, 2022, at 6 p.m. Register to attend the lecture here.

Dr. Lewis will provide an understanding of the influence of African culture on African American traditions and the impact of European-influenced politics on the enslaved community. She’ll also share historical insight into slavery in New England and how the tradition of electing Black governors was negotiated cultural space for enslaved people across the region.

In her presentation, Lewis will discuss the election of Black governors in New Haven, Norwich, and Hartford. She’ll also present an overview of Black coronation ceremonies, which included festive celebration and feasting along with drumming and dancing. “The elections of Black governors were not imitations of white elections but a cultural tradition that combined the African tradition of celebrating kings and chiefs with a European-influenced electoral process already in place in New England,” says Lewis.

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