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How The Scottsboro Boys Can Help Us Talk About the History of Racism

July 30, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm |

**We’re sorry, but all available spaces for this event have been reserved!**

Playhouse on Park and the CHS are partnering to explore how theater can help us discuss racism in American history.

This summer, Playhouse on Park is producing The Scottsboro Boys, a musical nominated in 2011 for 12 Tony awards, in which nine African-American men, wrongly convicted of rape in the 1930s, tell their story using minstrelsy, an historically racist form of entertainment. This coincides with the CHS’s run of Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow, a travelling exhibition from the New-York Historical Society. On July 30, we invite the public to join us at CHS for a panel discussion to look at how the production helps us to explore the themes of racism and resistance explored in the exhibition. Panelists include the Honorable Richard A. Robinson, Chief Justice of the CT Supreme Court; Professor Diana R. Paulin of Trinity College; and Frank Mitchell, Executive Director of the Amistad Center for Arts & Culture. The panel will be moderated by Valerie Caldwell-Gaines, General Counsel to Charter Oak Health Center.

This event is free and open to the public. Museum galleries will be open  beginning at 5:00 pm. Light refreshments will be served.

Please let us know you’re coming by emailing rsvp@chs.org or calling 860-236-5621 ext. 238.

Questions? Contact Natalie Belanger, Adult Programs Manager, at natalie_belanger@chs.org.

About our Panelists: 

The Honorable Richard A. Robinson is Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Connecticut and a Juris Doctor degree from West Virginia University School of Law.

Over his many years as a jurist, Justice Robinson has served the legal profession in many capacities and received numerous awards, including Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Competency (2009-present); Chairperson of the Rules Committee (2017- present); Connecticut Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Diversity Award (2010); Connecticut Bar Association’s Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award for Integrity (2017); NAACP 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut; Connecticut Bar Foundation James W. Cooper Fellows, Life Fellow; Discovering Amistad National Advisory Board; Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities’ Alvin W. Penn Award for Excellence in Leadership (2018); Ebony Magazine Power 100 Award (2018).

Frank Mitchell is executive director of The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. During his time at The Amistad Center, Mitchell redefined the exhibition program from a collection-based focus on historical timelines to a topical exhibition program that integrates collections material and loans of contemporary art and partnerships with leading artists. Mitchell has curated, organized, and produced exhibitions and programs at The Schomburg Center, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Anacostia Museum, University of St. Joseph Art Gallery, Capital Community College, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Hill-Stead Museum, Hartford Public Library, Connecticut Historical Society, Old State House, and other regional partners. As the consulting curator for the National Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum, Mitchell led the design planning process for a $1 million renovation to the historic landmark. He holds a doctor of philosophy degree in American Culture from the University of Michigan, a master of arts degree in African-American Studies from Yale University, and bachelor of arts degree from Bowdoin College.

Diana R. Paulin is a Professor of American Studies and English at Trinity College. She earned her B.A. at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., her MA in English literature at the University of Washington in Seattle, and her Ph.D. in English and American literature at Stanford University. Her more recent publications and presentations have focused on representations of miscegenation, race and sexuality, critical autism studies and race, and performance. Paulin has taught courses on African American/U.S. literature, disability and race, representations of miscegenation, drama and performance studies, queer Harlem, and Afro-Asian American intersectionality. Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation U.S. Drama and Fiction was published by the University of Minnesota Press in July 2012. She has also published articles in Theatre Journal, Cultural Critique, and The Journal of Drama Theory and Criticism, as well as chapters in the Critical Anthology of African American Performance and Theater History and in White Women in Racialized Spaces.

Moderator Valerie Caldwell-Gaines is General Counsel to Charter Oak Health Center and formerly a private practitioner in the areas of labor and employment law as well as child protection and family law. She previously served at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in a variety of capacities including Acting Executive Director. Attorney Caldwell-Gaines has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Louisville and received her JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She has provided clinical assessments and/or therapeutic services at Catholic Charities, Gray Lodge, and the Hartford Dispensary and was a program director for Connecticut Junior Republic. She is an adjunct professor at UConn School of Law.  She has trained public defenders and contract attorneys for the Center of Children’s Advocacy and the Office of the Chief Public Defender and has received numerous awards and citations for her service to the public and community.

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To support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Connecticut Historical Society will temporarily close now through April 22. All on-site programs and events are canceled during this time.Click here for CHS's digital programs.