By Rose Henry, Staff Writer
HARTFORD – Ask Meryth Andrews and she can tell you about the founding of the grassroots organization now with renewed passion for community economic development through education and preservation: the John R. Rogers African-American Cultural Center.
That’s because Andrews is the granddaughter of John E. Rogers. Rogers was a local self-taught historian, who championed the teaching of black history. Like Andrews, the new JERAACC board members are dedicated to reviving the organization and cementing its status as “the root in the Greater Hartford community, always there to build up the community through pride and empowerment.”
Of the many activities slated for the 2012 agenda is a black history program: “Race and Representation in Black Connecticut: From Black Governors to Black Legislators in the Age of Barack Obama.”
The free event will be on Feb. 9, 5: 30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library Atrium. Light refreshments will be served. The event will also feature an exhibit of nineteenth-century black governors and twentieth-century black leaders, including local members of the Tuskegee Airmen. Historians Ann-Marie Adams of Rutgers University and Katherine Harris of Central Connecticut State University, will lead the community-wide discussion.
Andrews was bursting with enthusiasm about the exciting programs and activities slated for this year.
Citing Marcus Garvey often-quoted words that a people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots, organizers laid bare the essence of the organization.
“This is one of the many reasons why the John E. Rogers African American Cultural Center, Inc. is culturally relevant to the Greater Hartford community, particularly during Black History Month,” said Andrews, a local attorney.
This year, the national black history month theme is focused on the black female with Ida B. Wells as the iconic image representing the strength, beauty and resilience of black women across the African Diaspora.
Board members said the Cultural Center “hopes to be the root in the Greater Hartford community…always there to build up the community through pride and empowerment.”
“I think it’s important to build our present and future with the [JERAACC] collection,” said Eugene Green, long-time board chair and a 35-year veteran teacher in the Hartford Public School system. “We had the chance to study our past and then project our future.”
That’s where the new leadership team comes in, organizers said.
“Dr. Rogers was so very passionate about Black History, more specifically the history of Blacks in Connecticut,” Andrews said. “As a lifetime resident of the Greater Hartford area and the granddaughter of Dr. John E. Rogers, it is my responsibility and goal to see this project to fruition.”
The Howard University Alumni Club of Greater Hartford will underwrite a portion of the event.
Donations for black history month themed, school-aged books are being accepted by for the Howard University Alumni Club of Greater Hartford’s Read Across America Program. For more information about HUACGH reading program, contact: Kristen Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Hartford Public Library black history month program, call Ira Revels at 860-695-6320.