Abolitionist’s Hartford Visit Important Symbol

By DAMARIS WHITTAKER and STEVE THORNTON

Symbols have a power that can be used for good or evil. Some shame us and leave a stain on our collective conscience. The best symbols help us remember our past and nurture us when we struggle in dark times.

When Confederate memorials are renamed or taken down, which has happened in New Haven, with the renaming of Yale University’s Calhoun College this year, and New Orleans, with the recent removal of two Confederate war memorials, it’s a small but real victory for the 4 million black people held in bondage and all those who fought to eradicate our country’s “original sin.”

The closest thing Hartford has to a Confederate memorial may be a plaque currently affixed to a downtown Hartford office building at 777 Main St. It marks a campaign stop by Stephen A. Douglas, the slavery apologist who ran for the presidency in 1860 against Abraham Lincoln. At best, it is a thoughtless gesture; at worst, an insult to freedom fighters and their descendants.

 

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