Giving a Voice to Nean

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Giving a Voice to Nean
Witness Stones Project ’23

By Cordelia Thompson ’25

The Witness Stones Project has been one of the most extraordinary projects I have ever worked on. I never knew that Connecticut’s laws regarding the treatment of African Americans were more in line with the South than the North, or about Prudence Crandall’s school and how when she opened up a school just for African American girls the people rioted and looted the school.

I learned a lot about slavery in Connecticut and until then I never realized just how much Connecticut and the North profited from slavery. Connecticut's role in slavery was shocking and I was amazed that, having lived in Connecticut for many years, I never knew that on the New Haven Green, families were torn apart, or that Hartford prospered from insuring the slaves of wealthy Southern plantation owners. These things really stick with you when you realize everything is connected and that New Haven probably wouldn't have existed without slavery. 

Working in our groups and taking notes could, at some parts, be tedious but it was extremely crazy to realize, you can’t just look this person up on Wikipedia. We were doing things that actual historians do. That feeling is something I hadn’t experienced before. Learning hard histories is always difficult and I was really supported by my teacher and class. So while there were challenges (decyphering Old English, taking notes, reading hard histories, learning about this slavery in Connecticut), our grade came together and helped each other to tell Nean’s story. Giving a voice to Nean is definitely something that I, for one, will  always remember. 

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