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African American History Museum Opens in Stratford

The Ruby and Calvin Fletcher African American History Museum has visitors start at the arrival of Africans in America on slave ships, and walks them through history with authentic artifacts.

NBC Connecticut

There’s a brand new museum in Stratford that’s taking a look at the nation’s history through the lens of the African American experience.

Jeffrey Fletcher is on a special mission to share the story of African Americans with Connecticut. Now using a collection of memorabilia started by his mother and father, he’s created a museum doing just that - the Ruby and Calvin Fletcher African American History Museum.

“I just decided that it was time for her information as well as the information that is going on today to make a connection.”

Housed in an 1800s Stratford home and inspired by the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, visitors start at the arrival of Africans in America on slave ships, walking through authentic artifacts like slave collars and auction manifests.

“Now you’re taken from the continent of Africa, from your towns, your villages and you’re hustled, and you’re bustled onto these ships that are going to all points and locations across the world,” said Fletcher.

The museum also spotlights Tuskegee Airmen, including Hartford native 2nd Lt. Edward Thornton Dixon.

It’s a labor of love for Fletcher – the former New Haven police officer who grew up in Colchester used to take the exhibition on tour before establishing this space.

“People can see it, they can embrace it. They can actually touch some of the artifacts and get a sense of what this history was about instead of having to read it in the history books,” said Fletcher.

Board member Kim Newland worked with Fletcher over the years to make this a reality.

“All walks of life need to be here to take in, to learn to be educated, to be advocates of what it is we’re trying to get out to the masses. I stand stronger as an African American woman to be a part of such a wonderful project. Everyone needs to be here,” said Newland.

After years of collecting, planning and waiting, this museum is now a reality, with the hope of teaching this special history to everyone.

“I want to show America, I want to show Connecticut, I want to show the municipality of Stratford that this history is not threatening, it’s just telling the real story.”

The museum held its grand opening on October 30, 2021 and is now open for individual and group visits. Admission is free.

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