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Bringing Connecticut’s Black and Latino History into the Classroom

Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.   

Students studying the Civil Rights Movement are most likely familiar with these names. Perhaps less familiar to students might be the names William J. Brown or Mardon Walker, or organizations like the Urban League of Greater Hartford.  

In 2019 the Connecticut General Assembly passed CTPA 19-12, which mandated the development of a Black and Latino course of studies for the high school level. The State Education Resource Center developed a curriculum to fulfill this mandate, which became a required offering in every Connecticut school district in the 2022-2023 school year.  

To support Connecticut educators who are teaching this course, the Connecticut Museum of Culture and History has developed free teacher resources through a Museums for America Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. These digital resource packs will provide high school teachers with materials to bring stories of Black and Latino Connecticans into their students’ studies.  

When students taking this course learn about the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s, the Connecticut Museum’s corresponding digital resource pack will add insight into how the movement impacted Connecticut residents. Students will learn how everyday Connecticans became active citizens, as shown in the case of Mardon Walker, a young white woman from Connecticut who participated in sit-ins and student protests while studying in Georgia. Through images, documents, and objects from the Connecticut Museum collection, students will learn how William J. Brown fought for social justice and equal rights at a local level in his role as the director of the Urban League of Greater Hartford. Through these stories, the struggles of Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham are brought close to home, reflected in the stories of Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, and other towns across Connecticut.  

Ten digital resource packs have been created, each focusing on a different topic related to Black and Latino history in Connecticut as told through primary sources from the Connecticut Museum collection. A Teacher Advisory Board, representing school districts from across the state, has provided guidance and feedback on the conception and refinement of these resources, to ensure that they are useful for teachers and appropriate for high school students.  

These resources are currently available for teachers to pilot this school year! Teachers can learn more about this project and access the digital resource packs by visiting https://www.connecticutmuseum.org/educators/educatorresources/blackandlatinostudies/.  


Main Image: William J. Brown with wife and daughters, William J. Brown & Urban League of Greater Hartford collection, 1942-2002. Gift of Andrea Brown Seldon. Photo. Box 8, Folder 11. Ms 102042, Connecticut Museum of Culture and History collection. 

Button Image: Pin-back Button, 1964-1971. Mardon Walker Civil Rights collection, 1963-1995. 2020.61.1-74, Ms 102118, Connecticut Museum of Culture and History collection

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