GLC@Lunch: Slavery in and out of the Archives: History, Family, and Creative Inspiration in Fairfield, Connecticut
Diane Ciccone, Esq. and Kyle Bass (Assistant Professor of Theater at Colgate University), descendants of African people enslaved in Fairfield, CT and the American South; and
Alec Lurie (Database Manager at Fairfield Slavery Project and Curatorial Assistant, Fairfield Museum and History Center)
This program features the work of the Fairfield Slavery Project, a searchable database of enslaved individuals in colonial and post-colonial Fairfield, Connecticut. The database is housed at the Fairfield Museum and History Center. Database manager Alec Lurie will discuss his research process for creating biographical profiles from disparate sources and highlight several case studies from among the more than one thousand people enslaved in the town of Fairfield. As descendants of African people enslaved in Fairfield, Diane Ciccone and Kyle Bass will share their emotional, intellectual, and creative journeys for exploring their family histories. Based on their discoveries of their earliest American ancestors, Diane and Kyle create narratives that amplify the history of enslavement in the New England colonies. In the process of exploring historical facts, their creative endeavors also explore deeper and more universal human truths.
Kyle Bass is Assistant Professor of Theater at Colgate University, where he previously served as Burke Chair for Regional Studies, and is the Resident Playwright at Syracuse Stage. He is the author of Possessing Harriet (Standing Stone Books, 2022), which was commissioned by the Onondaga Historical Association, premiered at Syracuse Stage in 2018, was produced by Franklin Stage Company in 2019, and most recently at East Lynne Theater Company in New Jersey. A descendant of African people enslaved in New England and the American South, Kyle lives and writes in upstate New York where his family has lived free and owned land for nearly 225 years.
Diane Ciccone, Esq., who has been practicing law for over 40 years, is currently serving as an Administrative Law Judge in New York State. Her interest in African American history led to the discovery of the first African American men who attended her alma mater, Colgate University, leading to the publication her first nonfiction book, “Into the Light: The Early African American Men of Colgate University Who Transformed a Nation, 1840-1930.” Currently, Ciccone is continuing research she started in the late 1990s of her earliest known American ancestors. She has traced them back to the mid to late 1700s when they were enslaved in Connecticut before their manumission in 1799. From her research she is writing a book that will create a narrative of their lives while serving as a resource on slavery in the Northern states before, during, and after the Revolutionary War.
Alec Lurie is a Curatorial Assistant at the Fairfield Museum and History Center, and a certified English Language Arts teacher, with a MA in Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. He is also the Research Project Lead for the Fairfield Slavery Project, which has uncovered the stories of over 1,000 enslaved people in the town of Fairfield, Connecticut. Using thousands of primary source parochial, property, and newspaper records, the Fairfield Slavery Project is the most comprehensive study of slavery in Fairfield County, and possibly the entire state of Connecticut. As an educator by training, he seeks to teach the community about this understudied history in museums, schools, and in public discourse.