Middle Passage to New London: A significant stop on the city's Black Heritage Trail

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Published Aug 12, 2022, 2:26 PM

In 2018, New London was designated a "site of memory" on the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization's slave route project, an effort launched in 1994 to "break the silence" around the history of slavery.

New London Landmarks held a ceremony in July to recognize the designation, installing a plaque at Amistad Pier. The site is considered the sixteenth stop on the New London Black Heritage Trail, which was unveiled last year.

The "Middle Passage to New London" plaque explains that in 1761, the Speedwell, a large schooner, arrived in New London from the west coast of Africa transporting 74 captive people. 21 people had not survived the harrowing voyage.

"The Speedwell docked in New London for several days before sailing to Middletown." New London joins Middletown and 51 other ports, or "sites of memory," in North America.

The plaque, and the designation itself, are meant to honor those who died during the Middle Passage, "and the enslaved people whose forced labor created much of New London's early wealth and led to disparities which still exist today."

This hour, we hear from local historians about their research, showing the Speedwell represents a small part of the city’s links to slavery. Plus, the Hempsted Houses represent several stops on the New London Black Heritage Trail. We'll hear from assistant site administrator Nicole Thomas.

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