“Timely Topics” series with a program on Martin Luther King in Connecticut


January 21 at 7:00pm


Celebrations honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 19th hold a special meaning this year; Barack Obama becomes the nation’s 44th president on the following day.  On Wednesday, January 21 at 7 p.m. (snow date Thursday, January 22, 7 p.m.), join us at  the Windsor Historical Society for a special program exploring Dr. King’s experiences as a young person in 1944 at the Cullman Brothers tobacco growing operations in Simsbury.  Society educator Julia Baldini will present a PowerPoint program building on an exhibition she helped to plan for the Simsbury Historical Society in 2005 as part of a group of graduate students in Dr. Briann Greenfield’s Museum Interpretation course at Central Connecticut State University. After the presentation, we invite audience members to share their own experiences working in tobacco or agriculture in this region.


In 1944, Martin Luther King was fifteen years old.  A precocious student at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia, he had applied for early admission to Atlanta’s Morehouse College.   In June, King traveled north by train with a group of Morehouse students bound for tobacco work at Cullman Brothers.  He joined a seasonal labor force of thousands of young people from many states and from the Caribbean, drawn to Connecticut by ample agricultural work opportunities and comparatively decent salaries. 


During that summer, King wrote four letters home.  He was anxious to know whether he had been accepted to Morehouse.  He told of getting up at 6:00 a.m. each morning.  He missed his mother’s fried chicken and rolls and wanted her to send some up to Connecticut although he acknowledged the food at Cullman’s was “very good,” particularly since he worked in the kitchens.  To his minister father, King wrote on June 15th,“We have service here every Sunday about 8:00 and I am the religious leader we have a Boy’s choir here and we are going to sing on the air soon.”  In the same letter King wrote, “On our way here we saw some things I had never anticipated (sic) to see.  After we passed Washington the(re)  was no discrimination at all…. We go to any place we want to and sit any where we want to.”   Three days later, on June 18th, he wrote his mother about a trip to Hartford saying “I never though(t) that a person of my race could eat anywhere but we…ate in one of the finest rest(a)urant(s)  in Hardford.”  By mid-August, King knew he had attained admission to Morehouse, and by mid-September, King was home.  Years later in his autobiography, Martin Luther King acknowledged how difficult it was to return to the segregated south after his summer in Connecticut. 


Learn more about King’s experiences in Connecticut and hear from others in our region who worked tobacco.  The Society’s Faces of Windsor photographic exhibition will be open to the public before and after the program.  Cost is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $4 for Windsor Historical Society and Simsbury Historical Society members.  Parking is available around Palisado Green and in the First Church and Windsor Discovery Center parking lots.




Windsor Historical Society’s programming in 2009 is made possible by the following donors:

  • Presenting Sponsors: Connecticut Humanities Council; Greater Hartford Arts Council, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; Windsor Federal Savings

  • Founder Sponsors:  Anonymous Donor; ING; Jim and Kathi Martin; NewAlliance Foundation, Rabbett Insurance Agency, Savings Bank Life Insurance

  • Settler Sponsors: Griffin Land and Nurseries, Inc.; Marcia Hinckley; RTI CT; Sir Speedy



The Windsor Historical Society, founded in 1921, invites visitors to explore the people, places, and events that have shaped Windsor for over 370 years.  The Society’s museum includes changing and permanent exhibition galleries; a hands-on history learning center for families; a research library and manuscript collection housing Windsor photographs, documents, ephemera, and genealogical materials, a museum shop and two historic houses open to the public--the 1758 John and Sarah Strong House and the 1767 Dr. Hezekiah Chaffee House. 


The Windsor Historical Society is located at 96 Palisado Avenue (Route 159) and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.  General admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students and free to children under 12 and WHS members.  Call (860) 688-3813 for directions to the Society and more information about programs.



Windsor Historical Society       96 Palisado Avenue       Windsor, CT 06095  


Tel:  860-688-3813

Fax:  (860) 687-1633

E-mail:  info@windsorhistoricalsociety.org



Return to Past Programs


Copyright © 2006 by Windsor Historical Society of Windsor, Connecticut, Inc.