Wheels of Justice

Stories from the Deep North

This original video series unearths stories of racial injustice and, sometimes, the bold resistance to that injustice, that occurred throughout our corner of Southern New England, including the towns of Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Deep River, Willimantic, Mystic and New London.  (The videos were originally presented as sermons at FCCOL between Jan. 24 and Mar. 7, 2021.)

Part I

Historian Carolyn Wakeman explores the history of the Florence Griswold Museum, a site that was once a space of enslavement of several families between the late 1600s and early 1800s.  Then, in Mystic, Michael Kickingbear Johnson shares a tale of the massacre of the Pequot people in 1637.

Part II 

Rev. Steve Jungkeit relays the story of how a prominent New England family from Bristol, Rhode Island, helped create a vast slaving empire that spanned the Atlantic.  Then, in Stonington, Marilyn Nelson introduces us to Venture Smith, a man who – once virtually unknown – now offers a profile of courage and self-preservation. 

Part III

Odile Brennan tours the city pier of New London, one of the harbors where slaving voyages originated.  Then, Rev. Steve Jungkeit narrates the history of slavery associated with FCCOL’s parsonage. Next, Kevin Booker discusses Connecticut’s long history of slavery from Cove Landing in Wethersfield and what it means for the present day.

Part IV

Rev. Emeritus David Good and Rev. Steve Jungkeit explore the town of Deep River’s connections to slavery, revealing the powerful story of William Winters and the role slavery played in the work of the Bleach House.  Then, Kevin Booker explores the decisive role the town of Willimantic played in the formation of the “Deep North.”

Part V

Odile Brennan examines the role that Aetna and other insurance companies headquartered in the town of Hartford played in turning the bodies and souls of enslaved individuals into instruments of profit.  Then, Mary Tomassetti takes us to reflect upon John Brown, an individual who initiated a rebellion against the systemic evil being practiced upon people of African descent.

Part VI

In the town of Canterbury, Marilyn Nelson narrates the story of Prudence Crandall and the school she opened for African American girls in the 1820s.  Then, from Old Lyme, Rev. Emeritus David Good shares a piece of our own congregation’s history from that era that remains embedded in the FCCOL Meetinghouse.   

Part VII

Maryam Elahi relays the history of the James Pharmacy in Old Saybrook and its connection to the Harlem Renaissance.  Then, Rev. Steve Jungkeit revisits the Florence Griswold Museum and other residences along upper Lyme Street in Old Lyme where enslaved families were sold and separated through slavery; and the church’s own history with slavery.

Postscript

Rev. Steve Jungkeit offers a concluding postscript to the “Wheels of Justice: Stories from the Deep North” series.