Martin Luther King, Jr.

Black History Month: History of Little Liberia


The University of Bridgeport is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month in the best way possible – with education and service.

Maisa Tisdale, Director of the Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community will share important history of the South End. "Little Liberia" (known as Ethiope, then Liberia in the 1800s) was a seafaring community of free people of color. It boasted a luxurious seaside resort hotel for wealthy Blacks (cited in a letter to Frederick Douglass), Bridgeport’s first free lending library, a school for colored children, businesses, fraternal organizations, and churches. Of about 36 structures that comprised Little Liberia, only the Freeman Houses survive on original foundations. Mary Freeman (1815–1883) and Eliza Freeman (1805- 1862) were accomplished business women. When Mary Freeman died, the only Bridgeporter of greater wealth was legendary showman P.T. Barnum. The Freeman Houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places for their significance to African Americans and Women.  The mission of The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community is to restore, preserve, and ensure the viability of the Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses; teach the history of Connecticut Blacks; revitalize the surrounding South End community; and facilitate the preservation and revitalization of other African American, and greater Bridgeport historic/preservation communities.


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For the past 15 years, MLK Day has been a Day of Service here at UB, with students engaging in community projects in Bridgeport and beyond. This volunteer work is an active method for students to honor Dr. King’s life and principles, to practice racial and economic justice, and to care for those in need.

Learning about social justice and widespread inequities is an important piece of the program this year. “I hope we are able to help students and the community understand how to be in service to the community,” says Director of Civic Engagement Melanie Strout. “It’s not just charitable acts, but education that will create the systemic change we need to better the world.”

The days of service range from January 18th to February 28th, and this year during the pandemic, the university will offer and suggest ways that students can utilize their skills and resources to serve from where they are, including virtually. Panels and moderated discussions will take place throughout the month to highlight how MLK’s vision plays out in the justice system and in faith-based communities.

Events are open to all UB students, faculty, and staff.

 

Questions? Please reach out to Melanie Strout at civicengagement@bridgeport.edu or call 475-422-1065.

Date:
February 25, 2021
Time:
7:00 pm
Venue:
Zoom
Contact:
Melanie Strout
civicengagement@bridgeport.edu