Wilton Library and the Wilton Historical Society will delve into the struggle for justice and equality in America for the scholarly lecture series titled “A Rocky Road: The Struggle for Rights in America.” This is the 16th consecutive year of collaboration between the two organizations to present the special four-part series.
The lectures will be held on Sunday afternoons, beginning on Jan. 29, at 4-5:30 p.m., with each session requiring a separate registration.
“This is an engaging and educational lecture series that will explore Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement, as well as ongoing efforts to secure equal rights for women and the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. We encourage our community to attend these special programs,” Michael Bellacosa, Head of Adult Programming at Wilton Library, said.
“This four-part series will be informative and thought-provoking, and will provide a great opportunity to learn more about how different groups and communities have all fought in their unique ways for justice and rights in American society,” Nick Foster, Director of Wilton Historical Society, added.
The four lectures will be hosted by either Wilton Library or Wilton Historical Society as follows:
Sunday, Jan. 29, 4-5:30 p.m. at Wilton Library — Bending the Arc: The Promise of Reconstruction Derailed; Navigating a Century of Jim Crow Apartheid with Dr. Janus Adams
During this kick-off program, Dr. Janus Adams will discuss how she met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., their brief conversation, and the charge he gave this then-10-year-old girl. Many of you will undoubtedly recognize in her lecture title the reference to Dr. King’s famous quote: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Reconstruction, begun right after the Civil War ended, held much promise for the true liberation of Blacks in America. How was Reconstruction derailed and how did the resulting Jim Crow in the South and de jure as well as de facto segregation in the North operate? What are examples of Black success stories notwithstanding those devastating restrictions?
Adams is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, historian, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author. She is also the producer and host of public radio’s “The Janus Adams Show” and podcast. At age 8, she was one of four children selected to break New York’s de facto segregation in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. At age 10, she was introduced to Dr. King. A pioneer of issue-oriented African-American and women’s programming, she has hosted and produced numerous talk shows for public broadcasting and cable news. She is a frequent on-air guest and a significant contributor to print and online media outlets. A former Wilton resident, she began her 16-year run as a syndicated columnist with the Wilton Bulletin. The moderator is Stephen Hudspeth. This lecture is sponsored by Kathleen and Bill Brennan and hosted by Wilton Library.
Sunday, Feb. 5, 4-5:30 p.m. at Wilton Library — Kids and Kitchens: The Role of Children and Domestic Workers in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Camesha Scruggs
During this program, Dr. Camesha Scruggs, Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, will discuss the role of children and domestic workers as change agents in the Civil Rights Movement which in popular memory focuses on individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. However, children are an integral part of the movement. From participants in school desegregation efforts to domestic workers’ contributions to local boycotts, we see their roles are vital to advancing the cause of civil rights.
Scruggs is a recent Ph.D. recipient in history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A native Texan, she received a BA and MA in history from Texas Southern University. Her research fields are 20th century U.S., African American Public History, and Gender and Empire. She serves on the executive boards of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites. She performs volunteer work for various community preservation initiatives, bringing stories to broader audiences. Her current project examines the lived experiences of Texas African-American women domestic servants in the early 20th century and how interventions from social, civic, government and higher education institutions impact the occupation. The moderator is Max Gabrielson. This lecture is sponsored in memory of Bob Kelso and hosted by Wilton Library.
Sunday, March 12, 4-5:30 p.m. at Wilton Historical Society — U.S. Women Demand Equity: From Voting Rights to Work Conditions with Dr. Aimee Loiselle
During this program, Dr. Aimee Loiselle, Assistant Professor at Central Connecticut State University, will discuss how women from different backgrounds and regions have pursued equity by different means.
Even the suffrage movement and passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women the federal right to vote in 1920, emerged from many tactics heavily shaped by race, class, and geography. Its passage fueled more efforts by women, both to use the vote and to highlight its inadequacy for addressing problems like unfair work conditions and poverty. Middle-class white women, Black women, and working-class women had points of collaboration and division throughout the 20th century as they demanded equity on different terms.
Loiselle is an award-winning historian and assistant professor at Central Connecticut State University. She studies modern US history with an interest in women workers and attention to intersections of gender, race, class, and citizenship. Her book, Beyond Norma Rae: How Puerto Rican and Southern White Women Fought for a Place in the American Working Class (University of North Carolina Press, 2023), follows women textile and apparel workers in their struggles over working conditions and their efforts to shape meanings for the working class in the late 20th century United States. Prior to her position at CCSU, Loiselle taught in a variety of institutions, including public high schools and transition to college programs for historically marginalized students. Her writing has appeared in literary journals, newspapers, magazines, and blogs as well as scholarly history journals. The moderator is Max Gabrielson. This lecture is sponsored by Mary Gail and Jerry Gristina and hosted by the Wilton Historical Society.
Sunday, March 26, 4-5:30 p.m. at Wilton Historical Society — The Long Road Toward LGBTQ+ Rights and Equality in the United States with Dr. Kelly Marino
During this program, Dr. Kelly Marino, Lecturer in History at Sacred Heart University, will discuss the history of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States beginning in the mid-20th century. In her presentation, she will consider the transition from the homophile campaign to the gay liberation movement. She will talk about interconnections with other social and political campaigns in the 1960s and 70s, the activism and ideology of the movement, the culture of the Sexual Revolution, and the influence of key events such as Stonewall. Her discussion will help to provide context for current events making headlines today.
Marino is a Lecturer in the History Department of the College of Arts and Sciences at Sacred Heart University and Program Director of Women’s Studies. She received her Ph.D. in History from Binghamton University (SUNY) and MA in History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Marino is a Connecticut native. She is passionate about state and local history as well as women’s history and the history of sexuality. Her research focuses on social and political movements, 20th-century American history, and Gilded Age/Progressive Era America. She writes about reform, minority struggles and activism, and is especially interested in issues of age, education, gender, and sexuality. She is currently working on a book project about advances in women’s higher education and the women’s rights movement in 20th-century America. The moderator is Stephen Hudspeth. This lecture is sponsored by Virginia and Tom Gunther and hosted by the Wilton Historical Society.
Additional information about each lecture is posted on the library’s website, along with registration links. Registration is required for each individual lecture. There is no charge to attend; however, a $10 suggested donation may be made to the hosting institution directly from the individual registration pages.