African American Heroines subject of library talk

Published on Sunday, 4 February 2018 22:45


Black women who fought for equality were remembered Saturday at the New Britain Public Library in a presentation by the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.

The program, titled “Connecticut’s African American Heroines,” was led by Lena Harwood Pacheco, director of education with the online Hall of Fame. It was attended by about a half-dozen people.

“The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame disperses cultural myths about women’s abilities and our 118 inductees are proof that women can be courageous and confident and inspiring to following generations,” said Pacheco.

Pacheco said her organization does presentations for libraries and schools of all grade levels. They also put together traveling exhibits and resources for school lesson plans.

Pacheco’s presentation included numerous influential black women past and present, all of whom were inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.

The presentation included opera singer Marian Anderson, who by living her dream and performing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, helped to inspire a 10-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. Also discussed was Maria Miller Stewart, who was the first black woman to speak publicly about abolition; and Martha Minerva Franklin, a nurse who campaigned for equality and founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1908.

Additionally, the presentation included Harlem Renaissance artist Laura Wheeler Waring, and Ann Petry, who was the first black female author to sell one million copies of a book, with her novel “The Street”; and Rachel Taylor Milton, who was the first black woman to serve as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force.

Constance Baker Motley was remembered for being the first black woman to become a federal court judge and was involved in Brown vs. The Board of Education, which helped to desegregate schools.

There were numerous other pioneering women discussed during the program, but some more recent examples included Denise Napier, the first black woman to become state treasurer; and Major Regina Rush-Kittle, the highest ranking woman to serve in the Connecticut State Police Force. Rush-Kittle also became a sergeant major in the U.S. Army Reserves and was deployed to Afghanistan, where she earned a Bronze Star medal.

Pacheo noted that biographies of those women highlighted in the program and the other inductees can be found on, the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame website.

Following the presentation, Vira Riley, a black woman who attended the program, said she was impressed to learn about Martha Minerva Franklin’s accomplishments.

“My daughter is a nurse and I will have to check with her to see if she or any of the black nurses she works with know about her,” said Riley.

Pacheo told Riley that there was a space dedicated to Franklin at the Midstate Medical Center.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Sunday, 4 February 2018 22:45. Updated: Sunday, 4 February 2018 22:47.