WAACA Annual Meeting, June 1988

WAACA Annual Meeting, June 1988. Photos courtesy of Florence Barlow.

WAACA Mission Statement
“The enhancement and facilitation of equal participation within all aspects of the civic, social and economic processes within the Windsor community.”
(1993 WAACA Bylaws)

WAACA logo

WAACA logo, by Barbara Word

In 1982, nearly 40 years ago, longtime Windsor resident Willie Graham invited eight black couples into her home to express her concerns about the local community. Graham believed that the minority students in the Windsor school system lacked financial resources and needed scholarships for higher education. Town statistics also indicated low participation from the African American community in social and civic activities throughout Windsor.

To address this, Graham helped found the Windsor Black Caucus, which would later be known as the Windsor Afro-American Civic Association or WAACA. By 1983, the organization was incorporated by the State of Connecticut with 12 executive officers and would go on to have a significant impact on the lives of Windsor’s Black residents for decades to come.

Community service was a crucial aspect of WAACA, and members were encouraged to participate on town commissions, Town Council, Youth Task Force, Police Athletic League (PAL), and the School Advisory Board. WAACA also hosted a wide array of events over the years, including scholarship fundraisers and workshops to help students in the college application process. Each year, the organization selected two students to receive one of the following scholarships – the Willie Graham Scholarship and the Billie Rodgers Scholarship, both of which are named after late members of the association. WAACA even participated in the Shad Derby by sponsoring events and candidates for the Shad Derby Pageant.

Lauren Jones poses with WAACA members

Shad Derby Queen candidate Lauren Jones poses with WAACA members at the 2001 Shad Derby Coronation Ball.

Windsor Historical Society Begins the WAACA Research Project

In order to gain further insight into WAACA, Windsor Historical Society and Dr. Fiona Vernal of the University of Connecticut have begun conducting oral history interviews with several members of the organization. Some of the interviewees include Florence Barlow, Richard Quintero, Cheryl and Tim Curtis, and Joan Huyghue, all of whom continue to be active members of the Windsor community in a variety of ways.

As we continue to develop a coherent narrative on the Windsor Afro-American Civic Association, we invite previous members and associates of the organization to tell us about their experience and share any relevant photographs, documents, records, or other related items.

If you would like to discuss your involvement with WAACA, please contact our Community History Specialist, Sulema DePeyster, sdpeyetser@windsorhistoricalsociety.org, (860) 688 3813 ext.107.


By Sulema DePeyster, community history specialist, 2021