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"Transgressing Connecticut’s Color Line: Mark Twain, George Griffin, and Charles Ethan Porter"

Event Date/Time

Aug 21, 2013
1:00 pm



In his masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain first dared to confront his readers with the difficult questions concerning race relations in the United States after Emancipation, a period often negatively characterized as the Jim Crow Era. Racial exploitation, repression, and degradation were commonplace throughout the nation. It was the absence of the most violent aspects of bigotry in Northern States that nurtured the myth that Northern race relations were progressive and benign, when in fact the expression of Jim Crow racism here was only by degree less onerous than elsewhere in America.

Craig Hotchkiss, Education Manager of the Mark Twain House & Museum since 2007, will explore this chapter in Connecticut’s past through the close relationships that Mark Twain had with two exceptional African Americans- George Griffin and Charles Ethan Porter. The former, as the Clemens family’s butler, became a cherished friend who “ruled his race in town;” the latter, as an accomplished artist, became one of Twain’s protégés for whom the “People” of Hartford had very high hopes. Their stories well illustrate what W. E. B. Dubois once described as the “veil” that separated African Americans from their white countrymen. Hotchkiss holds a B.A. in American History from Bates College, an M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut, a Sixth Year Certificate in World History and an M.A. in American Studies, both from Trinity College.

Cost Free with museum admission

New Britain Museum of American Art
56 Lexington St
New Britain, CT
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Additional Information
Contact nameHeather Whitehouse

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