On Wednesday, February 20, 2013, the Farmington Libraries will host Christopher L. Webber, for a talk about his book, American to the Backbone: The Life of James W. C. Pennington, the Fugitive Slave Who Became One of the First Black Abolitionists. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event. It will take place at 7:00 p.m. at the main library at 6 Monteith Drive.
American to the Backbone is the incredible story of a forgotten hero of nineteenth century New York City--a former slave, Yale scholar, minister, and international leader of the Antebellum abolitionist movement. At the age of 19, scared and illiterate, James Pennington escaped from slavery in 1827 and soon became one of the leading voices against slavery prior to the Civil War. Just ten years after his escape, Pennington was ordained to the ministry of the Congregational Church after studying at Yale. Moving to Hartford, he became involved with the Amistad captives and founded the first African American mission society. He was also the first African American to preach at the Congregational Church in Farmington, where he befriended John Hooker who eventually helped set him free.
As he fought for equal rights in America, Pennington's voice was not limited to the preacher's pulpit. He wrote the first-ever "History of the Colored People" as well as a careful study of the moral basis for civil disobedience, which would be echoed decades later by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. More than a century before Rosa Parks took her monumental bus ride, Pennington challenged segregated seating in New York City street cars. He was beaten and arrested, but eventually vindicated when the New York State Supreme Court ordered the cars to be integrated.
Kirkus Reviews proclaimed American to the Backbone “A richly detailed, wide-ranging biography of a modestly neglected black religious leader who was born a slave . . . Webber’s decision to cast his net widely has produced an important biography as well as insight into their pre-Civil War free-black subculture . . .”
Christopher L. Webber, a graduate of Princeton University and the General Theological Seminary in New York, has authored numerous books, has spoken around the state, and lives in Sharon, CT. More information on Chris Webber can be obtained from his website: http://www.clwebber.com/
This event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required for this program. Please call 860-673-6791 for details or register through the library’s web site at http://www.farmingtonlibraries.org.
The Farmington Library is part of the Farmington Village Green and Library Association. If you have special needs to attend library programs, contact the library in advance.