In 1949, CT Made Civil Rights News
“ ‘Jim Crow’ was handed a dishonorable discharge from the Connecticut National Guard on March 16, 1949, when Governor Chester Bowles signed a bill outlawing segregation and discrimination on account of race, creed, or color in the military organizations of the State,” said the Spring Connecticut Inter-Racial Survey. The bill was introduced by a Senator Wechsler and pushed through by the Governor to a unanimous vote.
Hartford’s African American newspaper at the time, the New England Bulletin, filled the front page of the March 26 issue with a giant picture of the signing and reported that “Against a national background which spotlighted a filibustering, unholy alliance of Southern diehards and Northern reactionaries who thwarted the cause of civil rights in the United States Senate, Connecticut’s democratic action won the acclaim of liberal leaders throughout the nation.”
The Chronicle editor claimed, on page 2, that it was through the newspaper’s action that important national leaders learned of the bill and communicated their endorsement of Connecticut’s bold action, which made the state only the second in the nation (after New Jersey) to desegregate their Guard. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr., who was head of the NYC Mayor’s Committee on Unity sent his greetings, as did Walter While of the national NAACP. Captain Grant Reynolds, colleague of A. Philip Randolph and National Chairman of the Committee to End Discrimination in the Armed Forces, weighed in as well.
A modest run of the Connecticut Chronicle and other titles in its newspaper family will soon be available for free online in the Library of Congress database called Chronicling America.