“Selma. Montgomery. Greensboro. Washington, DC. Wilton… It certainly seems like one of these things is not like the others when it comes to this country’s history of civil rights. And while it may not have been host to thousands of marchers, determined boycots, and movement-defining speeches, Wilton has been at the center of numerous tense arguments about race relations throughout its history–and probably more recently than people realize.”
So begins “Race Relations in Wilton: The Human Values at Stake,” a compelling video produced by the Wilton Historical Society for its video series, “History is Here.”
The short but powerful video about the layered and complex subject of race provides some surprising insights into Wilton’s past as it dips into a slice of the town’s history. Specially created for this year’s Wilton Reads program, the video features Wilton Historical Society’s Associate Curator Nick Foster exploring Wilton’s history and legacy of race relations, including a conversation with Eugene “Doug” Jones about what he and his family faced as the first Black family to buy a home in Wilton in 1954.
Since the town’s earliest colonial days, people of color have accounted for only a small percentage of Wilton’s population. Intentional obstacles, many dating to the 1950s and 60s, made it difficult or even impossible for minority families to purchase a home here, and that legacy can still be felt today. At the same time, many individuals recognized the injustices and worked toward solutions to create a more diverse and inclusive community. “Race Relations in Wilton: The Human Values at Stake” was designed to bring historic facts to light and to add local context to the community discussions that Wilton Reads is offering through the Wilton Library‘s selection of Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir as the town-wide reading selection.
The Wilton Historical Society has been producing the popular video series since April 2020 to tell the stories of the town’s history.