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John E. Rogers Center Sponsors Black History Month Program

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

For more information about the Hartford Public Library black history month program, call Ira Revels at 860-695-6320.



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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Kristen M. Clark Says:

    The contact e-mail address is for the HUACGH Read Across America Program.

    Howard University has identified a national education program Read Across America, sponsored by the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., Random House Children’s Publishing and more than 50 national partnering organizations, which promotes literacy year-round. Each year in March, around the time of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, NEA kicks off a round of reading parties designed to pay homage to the beloved children’s book author and get our nation’s young people excited about reading. Howard University has participated in this national program for several years and has encouraged current students and alumni constituency groups to develop programs nationwide. Howard University Alumni Association constituency units have been asked to develop programs in their respective communities.

    Our Goal: Howard University Alumni Association identifies with NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign, the Association’s flagship effort to help transform low-performing schools, encourages state and local affiliates, parents, community leaders, education advocates, policymakers, and businesses to work together to help students achieve. Two sites will be identified in Connecticut for the 2012 HUAA Read Across America activities. Howard University alumni will don red-and-white stovepipe hats, an alum will dress as the “Cat in the Hat” and read to underserved children, their own children and families.

    In Hartford, Howard Alumni are hosting a book drive from now until March 1, 2012. We are looking for school aged children’s dictionaries, books with characters representing the African Diaspora, books on heritage, books on politics and history (President Obama, Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King are some suggestions), books on mathematics and science as well as activity and coloring books for pre- school and elementary school students. For book ideas, the public can please visit:

    There are additional opportunities for the public to donate books to the HUACGH Read Across America program:
    February 10, 2012 — Crush Lounge 200 Columbus Blvd from 6:00pm to 9:00pm
    February 11, 2012 — Hartford City Hall Main St. Hartford from 9:00am to 3:00pm
    February 26, 2012 — Vibz Uptown 3555 Main Street Hartford from 6:00pm to 8:00pm
    February 28, 2012 — TGI Friday Berlin Turnpike in Newington, CT 5:00pm to 9:00pm

    For more information on the Howard University Alumni Club of Greater Hartford, contact Kristen M. Clark

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