By Stefen Lanfer
In 1833, when two dozen Black girls came to a new school in rural Connecticut, they met insults and assaults. The State passed laws threatening fines and whippings should they remain. Their white teacher, Prudence Crandall, was jailed. The ensuing trials were breathlessly covered in the national press, and nearly forced the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether nonwhites were citizens. Yet, when Connecticut’s highest court dismissed the case, a mob took justice in its hands, destroying the school with lead pipes, as the girls hid upstairs. Prudence traces these events through the eyes of a young Black woman and her classmates visiting the Prudence Crandall Museum. Weaving together past and present, the story becomes their story, of striving to claim America’s promise, only to be beaten back – though never into division, despair, or submission – by men with a different view of what makes our nation great.