New Canaan Library, New Canaan Museum & Historical Society, New Canaan Community Foundation, the Interfaith Council of New Canaan, Grace Farms Foundation and B kind are collaborating to co-host an important series to address our community’s understanding of race and racism. “The Start of Change: Addressing Racism” is a six-part series, designed to bring our community together in developing a common understanding of the history, policy, and experiences shaping present-day discussions of race.


The History of Slavery and Race in Colonial New England
September 15 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Professor Justene Hill Edwards, assistant professor in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, will explore the complex history of slavery in colonial New England and discuss how the experiences of enslaved people in New England shaped their fight for freedom into the 19th century.

The History of Racism: 1865 to the present
September 22 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

From Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to Plessy v. Ferguson and Jim Crow laws, to the civil rights movement of the 20th century to the crisis that surrounds us now, Bishop Selders will highlight moments in our shared history and reference particular events that connect the historic landscape.

Race, Wealth, and Economic Inequality in America
September 29 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Professor Justene Hill Edwards,  will examine the historical relationship between racial discrimination and economic inequality, and discuss why economic inequality continues to be at the forefront of social justice agendas in modern America.

A Conversation on Mass Incarceration
October 13 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Join Vera’s Vice President for New Initiatives Kica Matos and Dr. Anka Badurina, Executive Director at The Center for Immigrant Opportunity for a conversation about the enduring legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and mass incarceration. Our panelists will discuss the convergence of the criminal justice and immigrant legal system with a particular focus on Connecticut.

Debby Irving presents “White Privilege”
October 20 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

“Like most white Americans, I completely misunderstood what racism was and how it had always been operating in my life and in my white community,” states Debby Irving, educator and author of Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race. In her presentation, Irving uses her own life to explore the systemic racism that goes largely unnoticed yet perpetuates long-held racialized belief systems.

The Impact of Discrimination in Housing
October 27 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Join Erin Boggs, Executive Director of Open Communities Alliance, as she discusses the history of segregation in Connecticut, where we stand today with regard to segregation and access to opportunity, and potential solutions in the state and locally.

Books to Start a Discussion

Select any of the book lists to learn more and place a hold for pickup.

Celebrate Black History
There is no singular book that completely covers the devastating injustices endured by Black communities in America, nor adequately recognizes the resilience, excellence, and accomplishments of this same community. In this booklist, we aim to acknowledge Black history through canonical and contemporary titles that pay homage to the past and, hopefully, illuminate the road to a brighter future.

Books To Spark Discussion About Race
Looking for books to start or continue discussions about race, racism and activism with your kids? You can read and listen to these titles in our digital library or place a hold for picking up the book.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards
Designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards annually recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience. Further, the Award encourages the artistic expression of the black experience via literature and the graphic arts in biographical, social, and historical treatments by African American authors and illustrators. (From

Discussions to Collaboration

Thank you all who took part in bringing this important series to the New Canaan community!

Local Partners

Horizons at New Canaan Country School  |  New Canaan YMCA   Summer Theatre of New Canaan
A Better Chance, Inc. of New Canaan   New Canaan CARES  |  New Canaan Moms Group
LiveGirl  |  New Canaan Mounted Troop  |  New Canaan Land Trust  |  New Canaan Nature Center | NCTV New Canaan Television 79 | Tourism and Economic Development Advisory Committee