About Exhibit

The Talcott Street Church opened its doors in reaction to the treatment of black Connecticut residents, suffered at the hands of white parishioners. One example of this was the enforcement of separation in their church by what they called the “negro pews,” in which black residents were made to sit in the rafters or back of the church away from white worshipers. Through such indignities the existence of the Talcott Street Church was inspired.

Talcott Street Congregational Church and School  Hartford’s first black church and founder of its first black school, located on the corner of Talcott and Market Streets. Courtesy of the Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library

Led by nationally prominent activists Rev. James W. C. Pennington and Hosea Easton, Talcott Street Church inspired creative and educational leaders like Ann Plato, Augustus Washington, and James Mars. Under the spire of such a tiny monolith, these black leaders helped advance such historical events as the abolition movement and the Underground Railroad, which contributed to the liberation of the black community. There was also the Amistad Trial, in which the church was pivotal in liberating captives and returning them home. Not only was the Talcott street church a liberation of the body, but also of the mind, creating the first school in Hartford for young black children. The church was impacted by figures like Ann Plato, a sensational poet who would become the second African American woman to publish a book of poetry and the first African American to publish a series of essays. The Talcott Street church has a remarkable history—a history which should etch itself into the hearts and minds of all Americans.

Second Great Awakening:
Religious Movement Related to the Establishment of Talcott Street Church
The Second Great Revival was a spiritual period lasting from 1790 to 1840. This movement spread religion through gatherings and emotional testimonies. It started in Cain Ridge, Kentucky, where the debate of slavery and the Bible heated the conversation of religious practice, then headed up north and out west. Talcott Street Church and other black churches were built during this period thanks to its close ties with abolition and black resistance.

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