A Blessing of the Ruby and Calvin Fletcher African American History Museum took place last Friday, September 24th at the museum’s location at 952 East Broadway. Pastor Bernard Sutton II of First Calvary Baptist Church officiated and the event was sponsored by the Law Firm of Shearman and Sterling LLP.
The property owned by the Town (the former Koperwhats house in the Historic District) will be the home to the museum, named for Jeffrey’s parents (his mother’s private collection provided the foundation for his collection), and will have a Soft Opening on October 23rd with the Grand Opening projected on October 30th of this year.
Jeffrey A. Fletcher, the owner/collector of the Ruby and Calvin Fletcher African American History Museum, is a lifelong resident who was raised in South Eastern Connecticut. He is one of four children whose parents migrated from the south during the “Jim Crow” and turbulent Civil Rights movement.
The exhibit is a collection of artifacts which reflect decades of turbulent times for African Americans in the United States during the period of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. It brings visitors up close and personal which is an experience that many have only read about in history books or seen in movies. Exhibits will be periodically circulated, as he has approximately 4,500 objects and wants to keep the experience “fresh”.
The exhibit embraces the teachings of tolerance, diversity, unity and educating people that there was a time when imagery played a significant role in how African Americans were perceived. The artifacts and memorabilia may seem to be difficult to view but they are a part of African American history that needs to be told just as much as the triumphs which were made by African American pioneers and trailblazers.
The exhibit is an opportunity to begin honest conversations regarding a rich and strong history which has historically been maligned. The “Images of America” exhibit is an experience which will leave lasting impressions and memories.
Many students and former students in Stratford has seen Fletcher’s presentations with his collection here in Stratford over the years including at Bunnell High, Stratford High, St. James School, as well as the Baldwin Center.
After graduating from high school and college, Fletcher began what he refers to as one of the many inspirational points in his life that brought him to collecting African American artifacts and memorabilia. Jeffrey spent fourteen years employed within the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and twenty-one years as a Police Officer in the City of New Haven. Where the community he served was a multi-cultural community comprised of African American and Latino neighborhoods.
This project came to fruition with the support of the full Town Council with strong advocacy by Councilmen Paul Tavaras, Greg Cann, Chris Pia, David Harden, Bill O’Brien and Jim Connor for the project.
Further information may be found at Fletcher’s website for the museum: