Former Panther Jamal Joseph at the Hartford Public Library

Earlier this month, we posted an interview with community activist Charles “Butch” Lewis. On March 2nd, you can catch Lewis’s friend and colleague Jamal Joseph at the Hartford Public Library. Joseph was once a spokesman for the New York chapter of the Panthers. He earned two college degrees and wrote five plays and two poetry collections while serving time in prison for his role in the 1981 Brinks robbery. He is now a professor and former chairman of the Columbia University’s graduate film division.

Here is the interview with Butch Lewis*, from Wesleyan’s African American Connecticut Explored. The book also contains a chapter on the New Haven Black Panther trials of 1970. The recent PBS documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, is viewable free online until March 18th. You can read more about Lewis, who passed away in September 2015, at the Hartford Courant.

In a series of essays written by the state’s leading historians, African American Connecticut Explored captures an array of subjects, dating back to the state’s colonization in 1630 and continuing well into the twentieth century. One can find essays on slavery, Black Governors of Connecticut, nationally prominent black abolitionists, as well as letters from the 29th Regiment of Colored Volunteers in the Civil War. The book’s purpose is to show the evolution of life for African Americans in the state, from a tenuous and dispersed existence to the development of vibrant communities. An online tool-kit is available for educators.



Images from the book “African American Connecticut Explored.”


Wesleyan University Press has a long history of publishing books on African American history and culture. Some other recent titles include:
Prudence Crandall’s Legacy: the Fight for Equality in the 1830s, Dred Scott, and Brown v. Board of Education, by Donald E. Williams Jr.
(Now in paperback!)
The Logbooks: Connecticut’s Slaveships and Human Memory, by Anne Farrow
Making Freedom: the Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith, by Chandler B. Saint & George A. Krimsky
The Underground Railroad in Connecticut, by Horatio T. Strother (Back in print!)

*You may have to open the link to the interview in a new tab, depending on your browser.