Friday, January 20, 2012

Connecticut’s Unsung Civil Rights Leader: The Life and Times of Dr. James W.C. Pennington at Connecticut’s Old State House

For Immediate Release
January 20, 2012
Contact: Meaghan MacDonald
(860) 246-1553, ext. 116

The Story and Artifacts of Connecticut’s Unsung Civil Rights Leader
 The Life and Times of Dr. James W.C. Pennington
Tuesday, January 24th, Noon at Connecticut’s Old State House
 Hartford, CT – On Tuesday January 24th, stop by the Old State House at Noon to explore the life of forgotten civil rights crusader, Dr. James W.C. Pennington. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore an exhibit about Pennington which includes a 1840s Talcott Street Church pulpit bible and photographs. Oral tradition says it was used by Pennington when he was a pastor at the church from 1840-1848. Talcott Street Church eventually became Faith Congregational Church.

Conspicuously absent from our U.S. History books, Dr. James W.C. Pennington was a force for abolition and the human rights of African-Americans prior to the start of the Civil War; but a new book reveals his legacy in our nation’s civil rights struggle.  On Tuesday January 24th,  Connecticut’s Old State House welcomes author Christopher Webber as he discusses his writing and research of American to the Backbone: The Life of W.C. Pennington,  the Fugitive Slave who Became One of the First Black Abolitionists.

Webber will share the challenges and successes faced by Pennington, who escaped slavery in Maryland and went on to become one of the leading abolitionists of his time. His other professions during his lifetime included author, minister, and teacher. He was also the first African-American to take courses at Yale University.

Following the lecture, Diane Smith will moderate a lively panel discussion. She will be joined by Mr. Webber, Yvonne McGregor of the Connecticut Freedom Trail and Dr. Robert Forbes of the University of Connecticut-Torrington.

The Old State House encourages everyone in the area to leave their offices, bring their lunches and enjoy this free program in a comfortable setting. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by either calling 860-522-6766 or visiting   

Throughout 2012, the Old State House will have a variety of lunchtime lectures and other special events and programming. Visit the calendar on for more information.

Located in Hartford just minutes from the Connecticut Science Center, Wadsworth Athenaeum and the riverfront, Connecticut’s Old State House invites visitors of all ages to discover that their voices matter, and that words, ideas, persuasion and debate really can change minds – and, quite possibly, the world.  The building served as the Constitution State’s original seat of government from 1796 to 1878. For more information on admission prices, upcoming events and parking discounts nearby, become a fan of Connecticut’s Old State House on Facebook, follow us on Twitter at or visit us online at