The Rebel Girl on May Day

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn celebrated May Day with Connecticut textile workers on May 1, 1912. This little-known speech was a special moment,…

Fascism in Fashion

Benito Mussolini rose to power in Italy during the 1920s and he is credited with developing modern- day fascism. For…

Refugee Crisis, Then and Now

The good people of Connecticut are terrified that society will be overrun by the dangerous, ignorant foreigners and their strange…

Labor & Suffrage

The small plaque in the south corner of the State Capitol identifies the names of early 20th century Connecticut women…

Original Wobbly

I met the daughter of Pierce T. Wetter in August. Pierce was an original Wobbly. He was arrested in 1917…

Beatrice Longman Breaks the Mold

Connecticut has no shortage of war memorials and statues featuring prominent business and political leaders. The celebration of the state’s…

Remembering Butch Lewis

One friend of Butch’s called him the Pastor of Hartford’s North End. “A pastor is a shepherd, and everyone came to Butch with their problems.” With other Vietnam vets Butch started the Black Panther Party in Hartford. He never became a politician, never used his reputation for fame.

Rock and Roll vs. Racism

In 1955, the most racially integrated public space in Connecticut might have been the rock & roll concerts at Hartford’s…

Carl Sandburg, People’s Poet

At one time, nationally-acclaimed poet Carl Sandburg was so popular in Connecticut that even his goats made the news. After…

Selma, Not So Far Away

Father Leonard Tartaglia was sometimes called Hartford’s “Hoodlum Priest.” Like the 1961 film of the same name, Tartaglia ministered to…

The Woman in Red

If she hadn’t worn her red dress to the picket line, Amelia Sabich might have lived a normal, quiet life.…

The Language of the Unheard

“No Danger of Race Riots in Hartford, Police Officials Say.” It was August 4, 1919.  Hartford’s African American ministers feared…

Yanquis or Yankees?

Are we yanquis or yankees? In my small state of Connecticut (pop. 3.5 million), we have been both. From the…

We Irish Are A Working Race

A cold morning in March, 1849. The angry Irish laborers marched from Hartford to East Hartford across the covered bridge…

aka Jim Pembroke

The Reverend James W.C. Pennington, D.D. had been warmly received in Scotland, had his biography published in England, and was…

Isabel Blake, Welfare Warrior

Isabel Blake challenges state legislators to “meet with us and talk things over.” The legislators stay silent. “We don’t bite,”…

Mayor Mark Twain

Could Mark Twain have become mayor of Hartford? Apparently, the Knights of Labor thought so. This 19th century labor union…

Shoeleather Quiz #2

1. What was the last film to play at the Meadows Drive-In Theater before it closed? 2. Which one of…

The Fugitive and the Hero

The steamship Hero made its way up the Connecticut River. It was October 1, 1850; two men with different purposes…

Baseball Crazy

No ESPN, no sports radio, no internet scores. In 1913, all Hartford baseball fans had was the Megaphone Man. He…

Shoeleather Quiz # 1

1. From where did Mayor George Athanson broadcast his overnight radio show? 2. Which famous person spoke in Hartford? (a)…

The Gandhi Strike

It’s been more than 75 years since the legendary Flint sit-down strike by Michigan autoworkers, a watershed event in American…