Celebrating Black History Month

Women’s Suffrage Movement Roots in the Abolition Movement

Source: Lakshmi Gandhi; Earnestine Jenkins; History.com

Portrait of American abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In the fight for women’s suffrage, most of the earliest activists found their way to the cause through the abolition movement of the 1830s. Abolitionist groups such as the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), led by William Lloyd Garrison, provided women with opportunities to speak, write and organize on behalf of enslaved people—and in some cases gave them leadership roles.

Prominent female abolitionists included the sisters Angelica and Sarah Grimké, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Beecher Stowe and the former slave Sojourner Truth, whose “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech in 1851 earned her lasting fame.

In the early years of the women’s rights movement, the agenda included much more than just the right to vote. Their broad goals included equal access to education and employment, equality within marriage, and a married woman’s right to her own property and wages, custody over her children and control over her own body.

After the Civil War, debate over the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution— which would grant citizenship and suffrage to African-American men—inspired many women’s rights activists to refocus their efforts on the battle for female suffrage. Some, like Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, campaigned against any suffrage amendment that would exclude women, while some of their former allies—including Lucy Stone, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe and Frederick Douglass—argued that this was “the Negro’s hour” and female suffrage could wait.

In 1869, Stanton and Anthony founded the female-only National Woman Suffrage Association, which stood in opposition to Stone and Blackwell’s American Woman Suffrage Association. The rift between the two sides endured until 1890, when the two organizations merged to form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association.

“Black suffragists came to the suffrage movement from a different perspective,” said Earnestine Jenkins, who teaches Black history and culture at the University of Memphis. Their movement, she says, grew out of the broader struggle for basic human and   civil rights during the oppressive Jim Crow era.

But while many 19th-century women’s rights advocates got their political start in the anti-slavery movement, not all were keen on seeing Black men leapfrog women for voting rights with the 15th Amendment. Viewing the issues competitively, some leading white suffragists aggressively sidelined Black women—and their broader civil rights issues, like segregation and racial violence—from the movement. One strategy? Using their platforms to perpetuate stereotypes that women of color were uneducated or promiscuous.

Even after the 19th Amendment passed, promising that the right to vote would “not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” women of color continued to be barred from casting ballots in many states with tactics like poll taxes and literacy tests.

Suffrage battles continued for decades—often against a backdrop of intimidation and violence. Yet mid-century activists, like Fannie Lou Hamer, fought on, knowing the vote was a crucial tool for changing oppressive laws and dismantling entrenched racism. Here are five Black suffragists whose resourcefulness and persistence became instrumental in passing the 19th Amendment.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911)

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911)

At a time in America when the majority of Black people were enslaved and women were rarely encouraged to have political opinions—much less share them in public—Frances Ellen Watkins Harper became a genuine celebrity as an orator.

Second only to abolitionist Frederick Douglass in terms of prominent African American writers of her era, the poet, essayist and novelist frequently went on speaking tours to discuss slavery, civil rights and suffrage—and donated many of the proceeds from her books to the Underground Railroad.

Born in Baltimore to free Black parents, Harper received a rigorous education at the Watkins Academy for Negro Youth, founded by her uncle Rev. William Watkins, an abolitionist and educator. Harper moved North in 1850 to teach, during which time she lived in a home that served as an Underground Railroad station. Hearing the stories of escaped slaves cemented her activism, along with the passage of an 1854 law that forced free Blacks who entered her home state of Maryland from the North into slavery. Unable to return home, she channeled her thoughts into activist writing and speaking.

“When it came to the cause of women’s suffrage, Harper was convinced it would not be achieved unless Black and white women worked together. But while Harper initially worked with leaders like Stanton and Anthony, she was also one of the first women to call them out in terms of their racism,” notes Jenkins. Harper’s most famous confrontation came when she spoke at the 1866 National Women’s Rights Convention. “You white women speak here of rights,” Harper told the crowd, calling them out for their lack of female solidarity across racial divides. “I speak of wrongs.”

Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823–1893)

Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823–1893)

Mary Ann Shadd Cary, whose parents used her childhood home as a refuge for fugitive slaves, became the first black woman in North America to publish a newspaper, The Provincial Freeman, in which she fearlessly advocated for abolition. After helping recruit Black soldiers for the Civil War and founding a school for the children of freed slaves, she taught school by day while attending law school at night, becoming one of the first Black female law graduates in the United States in 1883. When the suffrage movement gained steam in the 1870s, after the 15th Amendment granted the vote to Black men, she became an outspoken activist for women’s rights, including the right to cast a ballot.

Cary’s legal and publishing background served her well in the fight for enfranchisement. In 1874, she was one of several suffragists who testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the importance of the right to vote. In her remarks, Cary stressed the unjustness of denying women—who were both taxpayers and American citizens—access to the ballot box. “The crowning glory of American citizenship is that it may be shared equally by people of every nationality, complexion and sex,” she told the committee.

Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954)

Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954)

Mary Church Terrell, one of the first Black women to earn a college degree, was pushed out of the mainstream suffrage movement by white leaders, Black suffragists through the 1800s founded their own clubs in cities across the U.S. Along with church-based organizing, “the club movement was the foundation for so much activism by Black women in their communities,” says Jenkins. With the creation of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896, suffragists Mary Church Terrell and co-founder Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin became instrumental in consolidating Black suffrage groups across the country. Their agenda went beyond women’s enfranchisement, addressing issues of job training, equal pay, educational opportunity and child care for African Americans.

Terrell, an educator, writer and organizer, also focused her work on fighting lynching, Jim Crow segregation and convict leasing, a system of forced penal labor. The daughter of formerly enslaved people who became successful business owners in Memphis, Tennessee, Terrell was one of the first Black women to obtain a college degree, earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio). She also became the first Black woman appointed to the Washington, D.C.’s Board of Education, and led a successful campaign to desegregate the city’s hotels and restaurants.

In an 1898 address to the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, she summarized her life’s work: “Seeking no favors because of our color, nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice, asking an equal chance.”

 

Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879–1961)

In more than 200 speeches she gave across the country, educator, feminist and suffragist Nannie Helen Burroughs stressed the importance of women’s self-reliance and economic freedom. A member of National Association of Colored Women, the National Association of Wage Earners and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, she saw voting as a crucial tool of empowerment, an extension of her lifetime commitment to educating African American women. One of her lasting achievements was to launch and run the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D.C.

Burroughs also spoke of the need to address the lynching of Black Americans throughout the country. “The most important question that Black activists were concerned with from 1916 to 1920—the years before the 19th Amendment—were lynching and white mob violence against Black people,” says Jenkins. Because of that, activists like Burroughs, Terrell and Wells saw the right to vote as a tool to create laws and protections for African Americans throughout the country.

Ida B. Wells (1862–1931)

Ida B. Wells (1862–1931)

In addition to being one of the most prominent anti-lynching activists and respected journalists of the early 20th century—she owned two newspapers—Ida B. Wells was also a strident supporter of women’s voting rights. In 1913, Wells, one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, co-founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, Chicago’s first African American suffrage organization. The club was notable for its focus on educating Black women about civics and its advocacy for the election of Black political officials.

But Wells and her peers often faced racism from the larger suffrage movement. When she and other Black suffragists tried to join a national suffrage march in Washington, D.C., in 1913, movement leader Alice Paul instructed them to walk at the back end of the crowd.

Wells refused. “Either I go with you or not at all,” she told organizers. “I am not taking this stand because I personally wish for recognition. I am doing it for the future benefit of my whole race.”

 

It’s Black History Month

Town Cancels Lease with The Alliance for Community Empowerment, (The Alliance)

South End Community Center Non-Profit

A nonprofit organization that acts as a one-stop shop for South End residents for services from child care to rent, fuel and utility assistance, finds itself searching for a new home after decades of serving the South End of Stratford.

Dr. Monette Ferguson, Executive Director for The Alliance for Community Empowerment, (The Alliance) a regional 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, which has been in the South End Community Center for decades, received notice from the town January 18th stating it would have to move out.

According to Dr. Ferguson, the notice came as a surprise and at the worst possible time, with the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting the community. There are presently 52 local families who use the Alliance’s services. “The Alliance provides wrap-around services for our early learners:  clothing, employment, rent, utilities, education, everything they need to focus on growing and launching out of poverty.”

The notice itself states the town needs the space for other community needs. Intricate part of serving that community center for decades, food pantry used by their clients

“The town is reclaiming the space to deliver essential programs at the South End Community Center. Simply put, we cannot meet these growing and pressing community needs and accommodate your space requirements.” the notice said.

Dr. Ferguson learned the town had other plans for the Alliance’s space last week when Chief Administrative Officer Chris Tymniak told her the town would not be renewing the lease. The organization has for years renewed its lease annually, most recently over the summer (July).  Dr. Ferguson said that this lease expires on June 30th.

“This contract was just renewed in July with no whisper of a cancellation.  I’m just super disappointed,” she said. “The whole conversation was a shock to me. And I was super emotional in the conversation. Some might describe it as angry but this is what we do.” I reminded Tymniak, that we paid our rent faithfully, even during the pandemic, and that we are a vital part of the community and federally funded.”

According to an article in The Connecticut Post, Greg Reilly, who handles public affairs for the town, said in response that the town needs the space to extend its own services to neighboring residents, including expanding the community center’s food pantry.  In the article Reilly said there is a possibility the Alliance can stay within the center, or possibly move to the Birdseye municipal building or expand its space at the former Holy Name of Jesus school.  “Discussions are ongoing to determine what space may be available to the alliance,” Reilly said.

According to Dr. Ferguson, she has not met nor had any conversations with Greg Reilly and is unaware of where he got his information, as it was not relayed to her.

Relocating the Alliance is tricky, because the group operates an early learning program, which is tightly regulated. The organization was established in 1964 from the War on Poverty with Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Alliance is an early Head Start grantee in Fairfield County serving over 1,000 clients for over 60 years.

Originally called ABCD, the Alliance for Community Empowerment serves more than 35,000 individuals annually through its broad range of services in a six-town area, covering Stratford, Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Norwalk, Trumbull, and Westport

Shadow Forecasting – Spring? Or Winter?

Source: History.com

Falling midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, February 2nd has been marked by both ancient and modern traditions.  When German immigrants settled Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the custom of pronouncing the day sunny only if badgers and other small animals glimpsed their own shadows,    with them choosing the native groundhog as the annual forecaster.

First Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2nd, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters—known collectively as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club—on the idea.

The men trekked to a site called Gobbler’s Knob, where the inaugural groundhog became the bearer of bad news when he saw his shadow.

Nowadays, the yearly festivities in Punxsutawney are presided over by a band of local dignitaries known as the Inner Circle. Its members wear top hats and conduct the official proceedings in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. (They supposedly speak to the groundhog in “Groundhogese.”)

Every February 2nd, tens of thousands of spectators attend Groundhog Day events in Punxsutawney, a borough that’s home to some 6,000 people. It was immortalized in the 1993 film Groundhog Day, which was actually shot in Woodstock, Illinois.

How Accurate Are Groundhogs?  Studies by the National Climatic Data Center and the Canadian weather service have yielded a dismal success rate of around 50% for Punxsutawney Phil.  Staten Island Chuck, on the other hand, is reportedly accurate almost 80% of the time.

In 1981, Charles G. Hogg, better known as “Chuck,” began his rise as the groundhog soothsayer of Staten Island Zoo, New York. Although Chuck is not as well-known as his rival in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil, Chuck gained notoriety in 2009 when he bit New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on the finger during the city’s Groundhog Day event. As New York’s only genuine groundhog, Chuck resides in relative luxury with his own cabin at the zoo. Each February 2nd, the mayor hoists Chuck out of his cabin to obtain a weather forecast. Like other celebrity groundhogs, Chuck maintains his own Twitter account in order to interact with fans.

Not to be outdone by us Yankees, Southerners have General Beauregard Lee.  As befits a groundhog with two honorary doctoral degrees and a commendation from the National Weather Service, General Beauregard Lee (or “Beau,” as he’s known to friends) lives in the lap of luxury near Atlanta, Georgia. His plantation at the Yellow River Game Ranch includes a miniature white-columned southern mansion complete with its own verandah, an architectural water fountain and a satellite dish. Since at least 1988, when he appeared on a nationally televised weather segment, Beau has been the go-to groundhog forecaster for the southeastern seaboard. He opens his “groundhog hotline” at 6:00 a.m. every February 2nd so that anxious fans around the globe may receive his prediction by telephone.

It’s not a weather prediction, but it is one hell of a party.  Fifty years ago, students of the University of Dallas, Texas, chose Groundhog Day as their official school holiday. While they don’t have an actual groundhog or make weather predictions, they are known for throwing a swell party. Simply called “Groundhog,” the celebratory weekend festival culminates with a party in the aptly named Groundhog Park and features live bands, food and beer. The school’s official mascot is the Crusader, but the unofficial Groundhog mascot is arguably more popular. The University of Dallas Groundhog celebration is thought to be the second-largest in the United States, after the Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, event. In fact, the festivities aren’t limited to the Dallas campus: Alumni take the party on the road by hosting celebrations in their own hometowns.

And who was first out of the burrow?  The earliest predictor: Shubencadie Sam.  By virtue of living east of every other celebrity groundhog in North America, Nova Scotia native Sam, a resident of Shubencadie Provincial Wildlife Park in Canada, takes the prize as the earliest to issue a Groundhog Day prediction regarding whether spring will come early or late. Unlike some other celebrity groundhogs with fancy homes, Sam lives in a relatively rustic hollowed-out log. Despite his humble lifestyle Sam boasts a large Twitter following, and fans around the globe follow his every move on a live webcam. On February 2nd, a bagpiper and town crier will attempt to coax Sam from his log house to issue a weather forecast. Should Sam venture forth, his prediction will be the first to herald our winter fate.

Termination of Head Start Classrooms at South End Community Center

By Stephanie Philips

Email sent to Mayor Laura Hoydick

I am deeply concerned about the recent news of the Town of Stratford terminating the Head Start Classrooms at the South End Community Center.  I understand there is a planned renovation; however, the Alliance program has said that six months is not nearly enough time to create an alternative space and work with the parents.

Furthermore, the Alliance Head start program has not received any contract or assurance of their return to the center following its completion.  As you recall, I was involved in an emotional transition of the community center into a childcare program at the loss of our community meeting space.

Although I am sure you know the Head Start program has developed to be an essential part of addressing our low-moderate community’s early learning needs.

I would like to understand why the Town wants to drop the program without explanation or community engagement.  Therefore, I respectfully ask several of us to meet with you in your office and develop an acceptable alternative plan to restore the Head Start program following the upgrades to the building.

Thanks,

Stephanie Philips

“Angry, Raucous & Shamelessly Gorgeous”

If you ask me…

by Tom Holehan
Connecticut Critics Circle
Hartford Stage

The attention-getting title of Pearl Cleage’s “Angry, Raucous & Shamelessly Gorgeous” may suggest a riotous evening of theatre, but Cleage’s seriocomic look at the plight of older African-American women in the arts doesn’t always fit that description. The uneven production, from the author of such acclaimed works as “Flyin’ West” and “Blues for an Alabama Sky”, is currently on the boards at Hartford Stage.

Pearl Cleage has a bone to pick in “Angry, Raucous & Shamelessly Gorgeous”. Pointing to the esteem that African-American playwrights like August Wilson enjoy (“He’s even got a theatre on Broadway named after him”, one character observes), Cleage also complains that the majority of Wilson’s plays are dominated by Black men who take center stage and pontificate while their female counterparts are relegated to supporting roles.

Center stage in “Angry, Raucous…” is Anna Campbell (Terry Burrell), an actress of a certain age, whose claim to fame back in the day was a controversial one-woman show called “Naked Wilson” where she performed monologues from August Wilson’s plays in the nude. Anna hasn’t worked in two years but has arrived in Atlanta with her companion, Betty (Marva Hicks), to receive a lifetime achievement award and, she believes, to give her farewell performance of “Naked Wilson”. Producer Kate Hughes (Cynthia D. Barker), however, has already hired Precious “Pete” Watson (Shakirah Demesier), a local stripper and fledgling adult film star, to perform Anna’s signature piece.

There’s a lot going on in “Angry, Raucous…” and not all of it always seems credible. A nude performance of Wilson monologues seems a stretch even for off-off-Broadway and, in the Atlanta performance, the show is going to be performed by “Pete” on an outdoor stage. Really?

There’s also the question of Pete being hired with zero stage experience (except as a pole dancer). She then changes into a sexy gown and climbs atop a museum and becomes a viral sensation in the space of hours. We also learn early on that Anna has had issues involving a Ponzi scheme but it is never mentioned again. An awful lot happens without much explanation. It’s a shame because Cleage is exploring some valid themes here especially concerning older Black women, but it seems to be lost in the implausible plot machinations.

It is encouraging (and rare) finding a play with four roles for African-American women, but with the exception of Demesier’s scene-stealing “Pete” who arrives midpoint and commands immediate attention with her ace comic timing, the acting here is somewhat lacking. An early scene between Burrell and Hicks is hampered by a struggle with lines and there is a general shallowness to the performances. The acting on a whole, under the rather pedestrian direction of Susan V. Booth, rarely rises above the superficial.

The Atlanta hotel suite setting designed by Collette Pollard impresses even as I question the addition of sheer drapes in front of the bedroom and kitchen. Kara Harmon’s costumes are really splendid, however, and by the end of the show Michelle Habeck’s fine lighting recalls August Wilson’s use of magical realism. The late, great playwright would no doubt approve.

“Angry, Raucous & Shamelessly Gorgeous” continues at Hartford Stage through February 6th. For further information visit: www.hartfordstage.org or call the theatre box office: 860.527.5151. Patrons are required to wear masks and show proof of vaccination at the door.

Tom Holehan is one of the founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and the Stratford Crier and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

If you ask me…

“Fires in the Mirror”

Solo Performance Blazes at Long Wharf

By Tom Holehan
Connecticut Critics Circle

“Fires in the Mirror”, Anna Deavere Smith’s powerhouse solo play based on the Crown Heights riots of 1991, is as sadly timely, relevant and potent as it was when it opened in 1992. At that time it was the talented playwright who took center stage interpreting her own piece and wowing audiences playing 26 characters in 29 monologues. In the current revival of the play at the Long Wharf Theatre, a new generation has taken on the role(s) and she doesn’t disappoint.

“Fires in the Mirror” may be speaking about events in 1991 but the topic of racism, unfortunately, never seems to date. The genius of Smith’s work is the showcase she gives various voices and opinions about that turbulent clash between the African-American and Hasidic communities in Crown Heights. The first act ingeniously explores historical and personal stories from both sides of the conflict. Some voices are famous (Al Sharpton, Angela Davis), but most are ordinary citizens, teenagers, moms, preachers, community leaders and rabbis. And Smith makes this a tour de force challenge for any actress brave enough to take on her play.

At Long Wharf, that actress is Cloteal L. Horne, and she proves more than up to the task at hand. Playing a range of characters – black, white, old, young, male, female, Horne gives definition and distinction to each one she inhabits. A sly smile, a hunch of the shoulders, a knowing grimace…simple gestures immediately delineate her characters both vocally and physically and she is never less than mesmerizing.

One only wishes that director Nicole Brewer had trusted Smith’s material and Horne’s dynamic performance without gilding the lily. This is evident in her choice of scenic design (credited to Diggle), one that takes up the entire Long Wharf stage and includes three levels and a huge projection screen. It is impressive, but tends to suggest a wellness spa in southern California and, mostly unused, seems to have little to do with the material.

Smith had a bare-bones approach in the original production and Brewer should trust the play and her actress with the tenet that less is more. The director also misguidedly adds a prologue to the play having Horne introduce herself and explain what she’s going to do and then adds a coda at the end having audience members stand, take a cleansing breath and recite a hopeful mantra. It all borders on the pretentious and seriously undercuts the standing ovation Horne deserved. This is a case of a director who just couldn’t get out of her (or her actor’s) way.

Still, kudos must be given for Porsche McGovern’s expressive lighting and UptownWorks invaluable sound design as well as the multiple costume pieces provided by Mika Eubanks. The play is still the thing here and, with Ms. Horne center stage, you will not be unmoved.

“Fires in the Mirror” continues in a limited engagement through February 6th at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven. For further information, visit: www.longwharf.org or call the theatre box office: 203.693.1486. Patrons are required to wear masks and show proof of vaccination at the door.

Tom Holehan is one of the founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and the Stratford Crier and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

“The Land of Snow”

Morley Anders Author of “This Land of Snow” on Zoom

Sunday Talks
Sunday, January 30th at 2 p.m.
Stratford Library

The Stratford Library continues its popular “Sunday Afternoon Talks” series of informative and entertaining talks featuring prominent local guest speakers in 2022 with “This Land of Snow: A Journey Across the North in Winter” on Sunday, January 30th at 2 p.m.

Due to pandemic concerns, the program will take place on the Library’s Zoom platform.  The talk, presented by author Anders Morley, is free and open to the public.

Anders Morley is a writer based in Littleton, New Hampshire, whose first book, “This Land of Snow: A Journey Across the North in Winter”, tells the story of an entire winter he spent living outdoors and traveling on cross-country skis across northwestern Canada.

The book is written in a literary voice and, more than just an outdoor adventure, is a meditation on winter and on the approach of mid-life.  Featuring lively characters and vivid descriptions, Morley’s story explores what winter can teach one about being alive and human, as well as one’s relationship with the natural world. Morley has worked as an English teacher and a translator and splits his time between New Hampshire and Italy.

The “Sunday Afternoon Talks” series, hosted by Charles Lautier of Stratford, is held from 2-3:30 p.m. on the Zoom platform. To register online and receive a Zoom invitation for the January 30th program visit: https://stratfordlibrary.libcal.com/event/8737078.

For further info: 203.385.4162

The Soap Box

“Out of Touch”

By Timothy Bristol
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-bristol/

This week Bob Stefanowski announced that he is running for governor in a possible rematch of the 2018 campaign. He then released a million-dollar ad buy, according to the CT Mirror. The Ad is an attempt a rebrand Mr. Stefanowski from a Payday loan CEO to a self-made man who came from nothing. His Ad has people claiming that Bob is “one of us”. At the same time, in interviews, he has attacked Governor Lamont for being out of touch with the middle class of Connecticut. [1]

Stefanowski’s specific line of attack is Lamont’s wealth that was inherited from his grandfather who worked for J.P. Morgan Chase as a partner and chief executive in the early 20th century. Bob Stefanowski made his millions as a “Global finance Executive” according to the CT Mirror. He was C.E.O. of Money Mart[2] which is a PayDay loan/subprime loan business.

The issue is the two people running in our governor’s race in 2022 are both very wealthy. Both candidates can boast that they put tens of millions of dollars into their campaigns. Both candidates self-funded campaigns in 2018 and declined to use the public financing from the Citizens Election Program. Lamont spent an estimated 7.2 million dollars in his campaign in 2018, with another 5 million unspent. Stefanowski spent the majority of his 5 million dollars, with another 4 million in P.A.C. money behind him. [3]

Why are our state elections becoming too expensive for candidates who are not independently wealthy? The answer is, the parties are letting this happen, and are failing the voters of Connecticut by doing so. Even after passing a clean elections program that could fully fund state-wide races, the parties are choosing to run candidates who can outspend that program.

Now, there is still a Republican primary to run, but Stefanowski’s ten million dollars will be hard to compete with. His win is not guaranteed, but everyone else will have an uphill battle to win the primary. Even if someone else wins at the convention Stefanowski can win the primary like last time. The Republicans will be hard-pressed to find someone to come closer than Stefanowski did in 2018 when he narrowly lost.

Lamont has held on to strong approval ratings since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. And in a poll conducted in October of 2021 on the upcoming race, Lamont was up 16 points on Stefanowski.

If these are the two candidates that we end up with for the Governor’s race, then we have to ask why? Why are both political parties so reliant on wealthy candidates to win the governor’s mansion?

Connecticut does have a robust public financing system in place that can fund a gubernatorial race. It is a failure of both parties that they have to turn to wealthy outsiders like Lamont and Stefanowski, instead of a candidate that can better represent the voters of Connecticut.

[1] https://ctmirror.org/2022/01/25/stefanowski-calls-lamont-out-of-touch-airs-tv-ads/

[2] https://ctmirror.org/2022/01/25/stefanowski-calls-lamont-out-of-touch-airs-tv-ads/

[3]https://ballotpedia.org/Connecticut_gubernatorial_and_lieutenant_gubernatorial_election,_2018

 

Monday Matinees

The Stratford Library welcomes 2022 with its popular film series offering free showings of recent, popular films shown uncut and on widescreen each month.  All shows will be presented in the Lovell Room at 12 p.m.  For information call: 203.385.4162.

King Richard      

February 14th.  Will Smith stars as the demanding father of legendary tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams in this inspiring true story.  Special for “Black History Month”.  PG-13, 145 minutes

Belfast

March 14th: Kenneth Branagh’s sentimental homage to his childhood in war-torn Belfast.  PG-13, 97 minutes

Dune

April 11th, Thrilling adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel stars Timothee Chalamet.  PG-13, 155 minutes

West Side Story

May 9th: Steven Spielberg’s lavish remake of the 1961 musical classic.  PG-13, 156 minutes

The Power Of The Dog

June 13th:  Benedict Cumberbatch stars as a cruel cowboy with a dark secret in Jane Campion’s critically acclaimed film also starring Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee.  R, 127 minutes

Urgent Call From Red Cross

State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th Connecticut House District

Dear  Neighbor,

As National Blood Donor Month comes to a close the Red Cross faces the worst blood shortage in a decade and more than ever, your help is needed. Make an appointment today to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).