U.S. Rep. DeLauro, Supintendent Mayo Honor Venture Smith

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        
 CONTACT: Kaelan Richards
February 25, 2011                                                                                          (202) 225-3661
 New Haven, CT— Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) kicked off the Venture Smith Goes to School campaign at the Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School in New Haven, Connecticut today.
Based on The Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, as told by Venture Smith and published in 1798, The Venture Smith Goes to School campaign seeks to bring his incredible story to students across the country. Born a noble in Africa, but captured as a boy sold into slavery in New England, Venture was eventually able to purchase his freedom, and that of his family, and became a prominent citizen of early America. The Venture Smith Goes to School campaign will educate a new generation of Americans, through events and an informational CD, about the days of slavery in this country, as well as working to raise awareness about contemporary slavery, such as human trafficking.
The inaugural event was held at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School in New Haven, and continued with two successive events at Worthington Hooker School and Clemente Leadership Academy. Congresswoman DeLauro was joined by Chandler Saint, President of the Beecher House Center for the Study of Equal Rights, Reginald Mayo, Ph. D, New Haven Superintendent of Schools, Sandra Clark, Director of Social Studies for the New Haven Public Schools, Robert Hall, Chair of the African-American Studies Department at Northeastern University and who portrayed Venture Smith, and several of Venture Smith’s descendants.
“Venture’s life story opens a window into one of the darker chapters in our history, capturing the brutality and oppression of American slavery as it actually happened. And it is also a uniquely American tale – how, through determination and hard work, one man could overcome even the most grievous injustice and make for his family a new life. And I hope that in reflecting on Venture’s story, we can consider not only the legacy of our past, but the reality of our present. For the sad truth is that slavery still exists in today’s world. According to the State Department, 12.3 million people are currently in forced labor, bonded labor, or forced prostitution around the world,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “So, as we discuss Venture’s story today, let us remember that the hardships he faced continue on in our time. And I hope everyone will join me in doing everything in our power to confront this evil, and end human trafficking now and forever.”
“Today, we are pleased to announce the launching of a nationwide effort to share the story of Venture Smith, who was enslaved in Africa, more than 200 years ago and later in Connecticut overcame great hardships to buy his freedom and his family's freedom, with schoolchildren like yourselves throughout the United States,” said Chandler Saint, President of the Beecher House Center for the Study of Equal Rights. “We want to share this story because it tells the truth about slavery in America, how it cast a shadow not only on the south but here in New England, too, and shows how one man could conquer oppression and racial prejudice through courage, strength and perseverance.”
“I commend Congresswoman DeLauro for her ‘Venture Smith Goes To School’ project educating students and the public about the life of this remarkable American and Connecticut resident. Venture Smith is an inspiration, a man who threw off slavery to become a successful entrepreneur and found a remarkable family,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayor said. “His life demonstrates that hard work and determination can conquer even the most formidable of obstacles. Venture Smith is a role model who will motivate students to excel and succeed.”