About Us

"The work to be done is not to completed in a day or a year; it will require a long time to remove the evils which slavery and habit have so deeply engraved upon the very fondation of everything."                   
-Reverened Amos G. Beeman, Middletown, Sept. 6, 1862, letter to the editor of The Weekly Anglo-African newspaper

The Amistad Committee:

Officers
President, Alfred L Marder


Vice President, Roslyn Hamilton


Secretary, Glenn Cassis


Treasurer, Vernon Simpson

 

Members
 

Nakia Dawson

 

Michael Carter

 

Glenn Cassis
 

Robert Gibson

 

Hilda Kilpatrick
 

Joyce Pritchett
 

Susan Robinson

 

Clinton Robinson

 

Emeritus Reverend Samuel Slie

 

Kai Perry

 

Hanifa Washington
 

 

The Committee History

  • The Committee began in 1988 to organize a series of events throughout Connecticut to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Amistad Revolt in 1989.

  • Accomplished raising funds to commission a statue of Sengbe Pieh, the leader of the Amistad Revolt, by the famous African American sculptor, Ed Hamilton. It sits on the exact site of the jail where the captives were held. It is the only statue of an African in a public space in the United States.

  • Has conducted hundreds of workshops and lectures for teachers and students. It has produced a prizewinning video and curriculum used nationally in thousands of schools.

  • Published several publications dealing with the Amistad Revolt and slavery. This has stimulated scholarship on the entire subject of slavery. The publication of Yale, Slavery and Abolition has received international attention.

  • Brought together the coalition that assumed the construction of a replica of the vessel, Amistad.

  • Initiated the Sister City relationship of New Haven and Freetown, Sierra Leone.

  • Successfully brought the concept of a Freedom Trail to the Connecticut General Assembly. The Trail marks the sites of African Americans and progressive whites who struggled for justice and equality throughout Connecticut. The Trail has grown from 54 to 130 sites. The Amistad Committee has served as coordinator of September Freedom Trail Month and the Trail since its inception.

  • Saved the studio of the famous African American woman, artist and diplomat, Marian Anderson, in Danbury, Connecticut, from demolition.

  • Encouraged research of sites and individuals who have contributed to the struggle for equality in Connecticut.

  • Sponsored the Connecticut Freedom Trail Quilt of many of the sites on permanent display at the Museum of Connecticut History in Hartford, Connecticut.

  • Sponsored the establishment of the Amistad Friendship Tree Grove to replace the lumber donated by the people of Sierra Leone for the construction of the Amistad, by planting 5,000 trees in Fabaina, Sierra Leone.

  • Marked the site of Roger Sherman Baldwin, former Mayor, Governor and ardent abolitionist. who was the lead lawyer defending the Amistad captives.

  • Placed a gravestone in historic Grove Street Cemetery commemorating the six Amistad captives who died in New Haven.

  • Played an active role in the international campaign to curtail trade in illegal “Blood diamonds” from Sierra Leone that funded the tragic conflict in Sierra Leone, encouraged and supported by the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor.

  • Organized 4 delegations to Sierra Leone to further cement relations between our two peoples.

  • Funded a bus for youth to the 50th Anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King March in Washington, D.C.

  • Has hosted the Presidents of Sirra Leone in New Haven since its inception.
     

New Haven Sister-City Freetown, Sierra Leone

 

1995  Friends of Sierra Leone formed to organize for the Special Olympics World Games

 

1996 Al Marder and Althea Norcott meet to write the application

Alderwoman Esther Armmand brings motion to New Haven Board of Aldermen

 

1997 Twelve community leaders travel to Freetown on a fact finding mission. The official signing of the Sister city agreement on the New Haven Green- Mayor John DeStefano, Mayor Florence Dillsworth and John Leigh, Sierra Leone Ambassador to the US

  • 1st Taste of the tropics exhibit at Edgerton Park (ongoing)

  • The Connecticut Children’s Museum’s Sister Cities Suitcases

  • Hosting students from Afula, Israel at Hillhouse High School (ongoing)

 

1998 Joe Opala speaks at New Haven Colony Historical society

 

1999 Dr. Abraham speaks at New Haven Colony Historical society

  • 1st Amistad Sunday at Dixwell Avenue Congregational UCC (ongoing)

  • Reception at Peabody Museum for the new Ambassador to the United Nations fromSierra Leone

  • Amistad players perform at Hillhouse High School and AME Varick Church

  • Reception for six families from Sierra Leone who have been resettled by the CT UCC

  • Shirley Gbujama Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, speaks at Hillhouse High School

2000 Launching of Amistad       

  • 1st Shipment from Dixwell Avenue Congregational UCC Church

  • Home Port Celebration

  • Sent $1800 to repair roof damaged by war of St. Joseph’s Convent School

 

2001 Archbishop of Sierra Leone, Joseph Ganda conducts mass at St. Mary’s Church;

           Nathan Garland designs Freetown- New Haven Sister Cities Stationary;

           Support Amistad Crew when it returns to its Home Port, New Haven

 

2002 Sierra Leone students visit Yale University as part of the first Human Rights Clinic

  • Fundraiser with Amistad America, Inc. at Hot Tomato’s

  • Workshop by Prof. Joe Opala on the Transatlantic Links between US and SL at Luce Hall

  • Supported Amistad Friendship Fisheries

  • 2nd Shipment with First Farmington UCC

 

2003 Amistad America, Inc. dinner in New York

  • First Thanksgiving dinner with Sierra Leone families (ongoing)

  • Freetown Quilters formed- 1st Quilt-

  • Sydney Coaker, Sierra Leone Poet Laureate visit and gives workshops for Arts and Ideas

  • 1st Amistad Sunday at Dixwell Avenue Congregational UCC (ongoing)

  • Community Crusade helps with 3rd shipment with first Farmington UCC

 

2004 2nd Quilt “Market Ladies”

  • 4th Shipment with first Farmington UCC

 

2005 Visit to SL with group from 1st Farmington UCC- Gustes of Vice Chancellor Strasser King

  • Silent Auction fund raiser with Amistad America, Inc. at the Greek Olive

  • 5th Shipment with first Farmington UCC

  • Joe Opala speaks at community Baptist Church

 

2006 Vice Chancellor and Mrs. Victor Strasser King first visit to NH and speak with NH students

  • 1st Oratorical Contest at Hope Day School

  • Helped purchase for new Hope Day School

  • Tooth Brushes for Sierra Leone; 6th Shipment

  • Exhibits at Arts and Ideas on the New Haven Green

  • 10th Anniversary Celebration at Lighthouse Point Park Carousel

 

2007 Collected 5000 pencils and sharpeners to take to Freetown as several members traveled to

  • Freetown to meet the Amistad as it docked there on its transatlantic journey.

 

2008 From Freetown- New Haven Sister Cities Committee in Freetown.

 

2009 1st Abablabi at Southern Connecticut States University to celebrate raising $10000 for Water Library and announce the formation of Sierra Leoneans in Connecticut

 

"All We Want Is Make Us Free"  - Sengbe Pieh