The Green Book Has Hartford Debut - Documentary Tells Real Story of Guide to Freedom Through Segregated America

Little known by most people - regardless of race - until recently, the Green Book has recently exploded into the public consciousness. Described as "the essential travel guide for a segregated America," within just the past two days a popular movie by that name won the Academy Award for best picture, and a documentary relating the story of  real people and places that inspired the popular motion picture debuted on the Smithsonian Channel.

The documentary, "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom," was shown at a special preview at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, in a showing coordinated by the Amistad Center for Art and Culture, Comcast, and the Smithsonian Channel.  It marked the third year that Comcast has joined with the Amistad Center and Smithsonian Channel to bring a special presentation to Hartford during Black History month.

Nearly 100 people were on hand for the local premiere of the documentary, which was followed by a panel discussion including Kelli Herod, Vice President of Post Production at Smithsonian Channel, and Stacey Close, Associate Vice President for Equity and Diversity at Eastern Connecticut State University, moderated by Kara Sundlun of WFSB.  Amistad Center Executive Director & Curator at Large Wm. Frank Mitchell, Brad Palazzo, Comcast Director of Community Impact and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin also spoke briefly, with Bronin saluting the "resiliance, ingenuity and determination" of those who traveled through dangerous times.

The documentary was produced by award-winning filmmaker Yoruba Richen.  It premieres this week on Smithsonian Channel, telling the story of the Green Book, launched in the 1930's by Victor Green, a black postal carrier from Harlem who created a volume that was "part travel guide and part survival guide."  It helped African-Americans navigate safe passage across a dangerously segregated nation, identifying towns, hotels, restaurants and businesses that would be hospitable to African-Americans, sometimes few and far between.

The challenges were not only in the South.  In fact, a page in the 1948 Green Book, lists locations in Connecticut - and the list does not fill the page.  The locations were in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Stamford, Waterbury and West Haven.  Included are restaurants, hotels, tourist homes, beauty parlors, barber shops, and night clubs.  The 1967 edition also includes five Hartford locations, including one - the former Bond Hotel - that is still standing to this day.

"We are proud to tell the true story behind this remarkable guide and to shine new light on this disturbing yet important period in Amerian history," said David Royle, Smithsonian Channel's Chief Programming officer.

The documentary tells the story of the rise of the African American middle class in Detroit, and the iconic A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama - a pivotal location in the civil rights movement. It also recalls that during its 1950s heyday, the Idlewild Resort in Michigan was a magnet for black culture and entertainment, with a booming nightlife featuring famous performers like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.  In the Q&A in Hartford following the advance showing, one audience member recalled her family owning property at the Idlewild - a local connection that the panel did not expect, but was clearly pleased to learn.

"At Comcast NBC Universal diversity and inclusion is a fundamental part of our company culture and are crucial components to all of our efforts to create and deliver the best and boldest technology and entertainment for our customers," noted Palazzo. "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom screening is another way for us to bring diverse entertainment and story-telling locally to Hartford-area residents."  Comcast, with Connecticut offices in Berlin, has partnered with the Amistad on a number of initiatives over the years and "are proud to play a small role in helping them to tell their cultural story."

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, located in the Wadsworth Atheneum, celebrates art and culture influenced by people of African descent through education, scholarship  and social experiences.

Victor Green looked forward to the day people wouldn't need the Green Book. In the 1949 edition he wrote,

There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.

The year the Civil Rights Act passed, in 1964, was the Green Book’s last.  As the panelists in Hartford noted, more than 50 years later, the struggle for equality continues.






CT is 24th in U.S., 2nd in New England in International Students; Numbers Rising

There were 15,278 international students enrolled at Connecticut collegiate institutions during the 2017-18 academic year, which represents an increase of 4 percent over the previous year and a 63 percent increase since 2012. In academic year 2017-18, Connecticut ranked second in New England and 24th in the U.S. in international student enrollment, according to the 2018 Open Doors report released by the nonprofit Institute of International Education (IIE) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Between AY 2012-13 and AY 2017-18, Yale University and the University of Connecticut took the top spots as the universities with the largest share of international students in Connecticut.

International students represent a big economic injection for New England, the report points out. In academic year 2017-18, international students contributed $39.4 billion to the overall U.S. economy, with $4.2 billion added to the New England economy alone. Between 2012 and 2018, international students contributed a total of $21.3 billion to the New England economy. Foreign students contributed an estimated $584 million to Connecticut’s economy in the past year, according to the report, which was highlighted recently by the New England Board of Higher Education.

The number of international students in New England has increased every year since 2012 and the region’s growth on this measure now outpaces the nation. In the 2017-18 academic year, the region enrolled 6.3 percent more international students than the previous academic year (AY).  This figure compares to a national increase of only 1.5 percent during the same period.

Both public and private nonprofit institutions in New England saw a 61 percent rise in the number of foreign students over a five-year period from AY 2012-13 to AY 2017-18, which is comparable to the national growth in the international student population over the same period.

International students have helped forestall a nationwide enrollment crisis. The total higher education population in the U.S. topped out in 2010 at about 21 million students and has been slowly declining since then. The decline in New England is especially acute. This has been countered to some extent by growth of the foreign student population, coupled with a rise in online enrollment, which together comprise almost a quarter of the nation’s students.

The data indicates that there were 9,350 international students enrolled in Connecticut colleges and universities in 2012; 14,711 in 2017 and 15,278 in 2018.  The number of international students increased from 2017 to 2018 in every New England state with the exception of New Hampshire, which saw a slight decrease.  Only Massachusetts has more international students than Connecticut, among the six New England states.

CT is One of 8 States Launching Pilot Projects to Retain Workers with Disabilities

Eight states - including Connecticut - have launched projects aiming to provide opportunities for people who experience occupational or non-occupational injuries or illnesses to remain in and return to the workforce. After a competitive selection process, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in partnership with DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration awarded eight states with funding for RETAIN Demonstration Projects.

Connecticut’s request was $2.1 million. Phase one of the project will be in the Capitol Region; the intention is to then expand to other regions of the state in phase two.  Each state created a leadership team comprised of representatives from state health services, state workforce development, and other public and private stakeholders. The team will work to foster collaboration between health care providers and employers to assist injured or ill workers in remaining in the workforce.

Health care partner on the Connecticut pilot initiative is the University of Connecticut Health Center and the insurer is The Hartford.  The state Department of Labor’s Office of Workforce Competitiveness is leading the team, along with representatives of Capital Workforce Partners, The Hartford, UConn Health, the state Department of Rehabilitation Services, and the CT Business Leadership network.

In addition to Connecticut, the states of California, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Vermont and Washington received awards. While each has the same mission, the projects are adaptable to specific state needs. The goal of RETAIN, or Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network, Demonstration Projects is to test the impact of early intervention strategies that improve stay-at-work/return-to-work outcomes, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, as reported by the Council of State Governments (CSG).

Stay-at-work/return-to-work initiatives provide timely and effective supports and services that allow employees to remain in the workforce and avoid long-term unemployment. Keeping people engaged in the workplace benefits all stakeholders including the employee, employer and state, officials point out.  States hope to reduce long-term work disability and the need for Social Security Disability Insurance through the projects.

The projects will be funded in two phases. The eight states mentioned above were funded for the 18-month Phase 1 pilot project. After Phase 1, a subset of the recipients will competitively apply for Phase 2 funding. Phase 2 will include a 30-month project implementation and a 12-month evaluation.

Providing supports and services for people who have acquired occupational or non-occupational injuries or illnesses strengthens their quality of life, allows businesses to prosper, and stimulates state economies, officials noted.

CT Ranks 11th in U.S. in Economic Impact of Immigrants

In an analysis of the economic impact of foreign-born populations on the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Connecticut ranks 11th in the nation. The states were immigrants have the biggest economic impact, according to the analysis by the financial website WalletHub, are California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Florida and Washington.

To determine the states in which immigration has the most positive economic impact, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across four key dimensions: 1) Immigrant Workforce, 2) Socioeconomic Contribution, 3) Brain Gain & Innovators and 4) International Students.

Connecticut was just outside the top 10 overall, with its top ranking in the socioeconomic contribution category, where it ranked eighth.  Connecticut ranked tenth in both workforce and international student categories, and 13th in “brain gain and innovation.” The four dimensions were examined using 20 key metrics, ranging from jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses as a share of total jobs to foreign-born STEM workers as a share of total STEM workforce.

"Connecticut ranked 11th in terms of economic impact of immigration. It has the eighth most work visas per capita, and the sixth largest share of active physicians who are international medical graduates at 28.8%, explained WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez.  “Twelve percent of households in Connecticut are second-generation immigrants and the median household income of foreign born population is the ninth highest, which means immigrants bring a strong socioeconomic contribution to the state. Additionally, Connecticut has the fifth most H1-B visas per capita."

At the bottom of the list, reflecting the least immigrant impact, were Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi.

Connecticut also ranked 7th in the share of second-generation immigrant households and 9th in the median household income of the state’s foreign-born population, $64,168.


One-Third of Connecticut Legislators are Women, Reversing State Trend, Ranking 14th in U.S.

As the new Connecticut legislative session gets underway, 33.5 percent of lawmakers are women, the 14th highest percentage among the states.  The Connecticut legislature now includes 61 women, apparently the high water mark in state history, and exceeding the national average among the states of 28.5 percent. In the Senate, there are currently 9 women out of 33 members.  Eight of the nine are Democrats.  In the House, which currently has 149 members, 29 are Democrats and 22 are Republicans.

Connecticut’s 33.5 percent is from 182 seats, with five vacancies to be filled in special elections on February 26.  Candidates for those seats have not all been selected.

The ranks of women dropped by two in the Senate between Election Day and Opening Day of the legislative session, with former Senators Terry Gerratana of New Britain and Beth Bye of West Hartford accepting positions in the Lamont Administration and not taking the oath of office for a new legislative term.  Two male House members and a male Senate member also did not take their oaths of office in order to join the administration.

Nearly one-third of the women in the legislature this year - 20 of the 61 female legislators - are in their first term in the General Assembly.  Last year, women represented just over 27 percent of the legislature’s membership.

The 2018 election marked a slight comeback for Connecticut in terms of female representation.

Prior to this year, the state had fallen from ranking 8th to 19th during the past decade in the percentage of women serving in the legislature, with the percentage dropping from 31.6% as recently as 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut’s 2009 legislature included 59 women, 31.6 percent of the membership, the 8th highest percentage among the states. In 2011, there were 56 women, 29.9 percent.

For their 2019 legislative sessions, the states with the largest contingent of female legislators are Nevada 50.8%, Colorado 47%, Oregon 41.1%, Washington 40.1%, Vermont 39.4%, Arizona 38.9%, Alaska 38.3%, Maine 38.2%, Maryland 37.8%, Rhode Island 37.2%, Illinois 36.2%, Michigan 35.8% and New Mexico 34.8%.  As with Connecticut, the numbers in other states may vary slightly due to resignations or elected legislators opting not to serve.

Nationally, women hold 2,110 of 7,383 state legislative seats.  Democrats hold more than twice as many – 1,430 Democrats and 663 Republicans. That is an increase of more than 300 Democratic women and a drop of about 40 Republican women in state legislatures across the country compared with 2017, according to NCSL data.


Hartford Ranked 3rd in U.S. for Women in Business

If you’re a woman in business, Hartford is among the best places in the nation to be.  That’s according to a new analysis by the website ShareFile, which ranked Hartford as the third best place in the U.S. for businesswomen.  Hartford ranked seventh a year ago. The “Businesswomen Power City Index” was developed by evaluating the 50 largest cities in the U.S. to determine where the best locations are for women to achieve business success, according to ShareFile.  The index ranks cities based on the percentage of women-owned businesses, executive jobs held by women, women vs. men wage gaps and the buying power of women, which is based on the cost of living and the average wages earned by women.

Hartford has jumped four places from 2017, as a result of a higher percentage of women-owned businesses (up 1.4%), according to the analysis.  Hartford’s ranking in the individual categories was:

  • 3rd (down from 2nd) in women’s buying power: 119
  • 6th (same as last year) in the percentage of women business executives: 31.9%
  • 16th (up from 22nd) in the wage gap between women and men: 18.1%
  • 31st (up from 42nd) in the percentage of women-owned businesses: 20.4%

The website points out that Hartford is home to the Women’s Business Center, located at the University of Hartford, which supports female entrepreneurs across the city and the state, offering advice, training, and events for women looking to expand their business.

Hartford is the only New England city in the top 20.  Providence, in the top 10 a year ago, fell out of the top 20.

Just ahead of Hartford, and retaining the top two positions in the ranking, were Baltimore and Tampa.  Rounding out the top 15 were Washington DC, Jacksonville, Raleigh, Denver, Orlando, Miami, Austin, Virginia Beach, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Aside from the top two, no other city in the top 20 has remained in the same position as a year ago.

The analysis relies on data from four main sources, including the U.S. Census 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, U.S Census Bureau 2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Sperling’s Best Places and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. ShareFile is a cloud-based file sharing service, a Citrix Systems company, based in Raleigh.


Organizations Focused on Progress for Women and Girls Form Statewide Collective

It began as a casual conversation between Kate Farrar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) and Sharon Cappetta, Director of Development at The Community Foundation for Women and Girls, during the 2016 United State of Women Summit.  Now, it is a full-fledged and far-reaching network aimed at providing support and collaboration for organizations serving women and girls across Connecticut. The Connecticut Collective for Women and Girls (CCWG), launched last month with more than 20 members and six funders, gathered at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation to celebrate the beginning of the Collective. Members range from Girl Scouts to Planned Parenthood and the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors; the YWCA to The Alliance to End Sexual Violence and Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.

The Collective is a supportive network that unifies organizational members, facilitates collaboration, and bolsters their collective power to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls in Connecticut. CWEALF is the initiative's organizer.

“Now is the moment to come together to make progress for women and girls,” said Kate Farrar, Executive Director of CWEALF. “As the state’s leading champion for women and girls, CWEALF is thrilled to convene organizations across the state to increase our impact.”

Organizers say that while many organizations are doing critical work to transform the lives of women and girls in the state, too often, these organizations operate separately, leading to silos. The CCWG aims to “expand our strength as a collective force. It builds on participants’ individual assets with a community network of organizations that uplift and amplify each other’s work. The very act of coming together in this way increases each organization’s impact to advance rights and opportunities for women and girls in Connecticut.”

"Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Fund for Women & Girls is pleased to support the newly launched Collective. Collaboration, Diversity and Inclusion are core values of the Community Foundation’s. Through the Collaborative, partner organizations will develop a common language and requisite understanding of what is needed to advance gender equity," said Tricia Hyacinth, Director, Fund for Women & Girls. "Moreover, members, from all regions of the state, currently working independently, will achieve greater impact through their collective efforts."   

“The Community Fund for Women & Girls and The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven are delighted to support the Connecticut Collective for Women and Girls,” said Sharon Cappetta, Director of Development. “This emerging network of committed program providers are already doing great work with women and girls in the state. Together, working collectively, they strengthen their individual organizations and connect to potential partners, as well as bring attention and audiences to the gender implications of public policy in Connecticut. Our communities and our state benefit from targeted investments in nonprofit organizations, especially those who are working directly to advance women and girls.”

Other funders of the Collective are the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls; The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut's Women and Girls’ Fund; the Women’s Fund at Connecticut Community Foundation; and the Main Street Community Foundation's Women & Girls’ Fund.  The Connecticut Collective for Women and Girls is guided by the following principles of gender equity, racial justice, LGBTQIA rights, civil rights, disability rights, ending and preventing violence, economic justice, reproductive rights, and immigrants’ rights.

Millennials Make the Most Money in Massachusetts; Connecticut Ranks 16th

If you were born between 1982 and 2000, and you live in Massachusetts, you’re making more money, on average, then people of your generation living elsewhere in the United States.  If you live in Connecticut, there are 15 states where the average salary for millennials is higher. Based on U.S. Census data analyzed by the website, the average salary for millennials in Connecticut is $69,600, compared with $80,307 in Massachusetts.  The states in between, reaching the top 10, are Minnesota ($77,090), North Dakota ($76,836), Washington, DC ($75,220), Maryland ($74,737), New Hampshire ($73,941), Wyoming ($73,345), Alaska ($72,374), New Jersey ($72,150), and Virginia ($71,397).

Also ahead of Connecticut are Utah ($71,284), South Dakota ($70,989), Nebraska ($70,870), Washington ($70,441), and Iowa ($69,739).

The analysis points out that millennials “are the most diverse generation in American history, more of them went to college than previous generations, and they are now the largest contingent in the workforce. Many of them also graduated in the middle of the Great Recession, which economists believe might have a lifelong impact on their wages.”

Geography also plays a role, according to the data.  The South, for example, “clearly stands out as a lackluster region for millennials in the labor market.”  In the Upper Midwest, salaries tend to be higher, and the same is true for much of the Northeast.

With the exception of Washington State, much of the west coast does not stand out.  “This highlights the fact that big tech companies are creating great jobs for a select group of skilled workers,” the analysis points out.

Millennials are making the least amount of money in Florida ($54,889), Mississippi ($53,269) and New Mexico ($51,893).

The data used is 2016 median household income for 25 to 44 year olds, taken from Census data and adjusted by Bureau of Economic Analysis regional price parity data, the most recent and comprehensive available.


CT Voter Turnout Appears Highest for a Gubernatorial Race Since 1990

In the early 1990’s, voter turnout in Connecticut’s gubernatorial elections reached 68.2 percent in 1990 and 65.1 percent in 1994.  Turnout hasn’t reached that high level in the state’s quadrennial gubernatorial elections since – until Tuesday. The Office of Secretary of the State is reporting, as of Wednesday night, that statewide voter turnout was 66.9 percent.  If that turnout percentage stands, it would be the highest turnout in a race for Governor in nearly three decades, since 1990.

The strong turnout percentage this year is underscored by the fact that the number of registered voters is considerably larger.  As of Nov. 2 – not including those individuals who registered and voted on Election Day – the number of registered voters in Connecticut was 2,165,045, according to the Office of Secretary of the State.  Back in the ‘90’s, the list of registered voters hovered between 1.7 million and 1.8 million.  This year’s election brought a higher percentage of voters to the polls from a larger list of individuals registered to vote.

Voter turnout – the percentage of registered voters who actually vote – was 56.6 in 1998, 56.5 in 2002 when there were 1.8 million registered voters, and 59.8 in 2006 when the voter rolls reached 1.9 million.

The 1990 race featured well-known, high profile candidates for Governor – former U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker, Congressman Bruce Morrison and Congressman John Rowland.  The race was won by Weicker, running as a third party candidate.  Rowland would go on to win the office four years later, when voter turnout was somewhat lower.

In 2006, when the Connecticut voters considered their choices in a gubernatorial match-up between Gov. Jodi Rell and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, a U.S. Senate race that featured Sen. Joe Lieberman, Democratic candidate Ned Lamont and republican Alan Schlessinger was also on the ballot drawing considerable interest.  Turnout that year reached 59.8 percent.

In 2010, Democrat Dannel Malloy won his first term as Governor, defeating Republican Tom Foley by the relatively narrow margin of 6,404 votes.  A third party candidate, Tom Marsh, received 17,629 votes.   Voter turnout that year was 57.4 percent.

Voter turnout is consistently higher in presidential election years.  In 2016, for the Donald Trump – Hillary Clinton contest, the voter turnout in Connecticut was 76.9 percent.  It had been slightly higher in 2008, when Barack Obama was on the ballot here for the first time, at 78.1 percent.

The number of people registered to vote also tends to surge in presidential election years.  In 2016 in Connecticut, the voter list included 2.1 million residents.  This year’s voter registration numbers, just prior to Election Day, were closing in on that total.

This story was updated at midnight Wednesday to reflect latest turnout percentage provided by the Office of Secretary of the State, which increased slightly throughout the day as additional information was provided by municipalities.

Income Inequality Increasing Faster in CT Than US; Among Largest Disparities in Nation

In Connecticut, to earn a place in the top one percent would require making $700,800, the highest threshold in the nation.  The average annual income of the top one percent is also among the highest in the nation at $2,522,806.  That is 37 times the annual income of the bottom 99 percent, which is $67, 742, according to data analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute. The data reveal that the top one percent take home 27.3 percent of all the income in Connecticut, and that the share of income by the top one percent has increased at a faster rate in Connecticut in recent years than in the nation as a whole.

Connecticut ranks #3 of the 50 states in income inequality, based on the ratio of top one percent to bottom 99 percent income.  (New York’s top one percent makes 44 times the bottom 99 percent; Florida 39 times; Connecticut 37 times)  The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area is the most unequal metro area in Connecticut, the data indicate. The top 1 percent make 62.2 times more than the bottom 99 percent.

Overall in the Northeast, the top 1 percent take home 24.7 percent of all the income in the Northeast.  The average annual income of the top one percent is $1,777,756 compared with $54,662 for “everyone else,” the other 99 percent.  Nationwide, the top one percent take home an annual income of $1,316,985 versus $50,107 for the other 99 percent.   The most unequal metro area in the U.S. is Jackson, WY, where the top one percent make 132 times the rest of the population.

The data is based on an Economic Policy Institute report published this summer. EPI is an independent, nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C. that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States.

The report used 2015 data, the most recent available, finding that the top 1 percent of families in the U.S. earned, on average, 26.3 times as much income as the bottom 99 percent—an increase from 2013, when they earned 25.3 times as much.

Eight states plus the District of Columbia had gaps wider than the national gap. In the most unequal—New York, Florida, and Connecticut—the top 1 percent earned average incomes more than 35 times those of the bottom 99 percent.

The report found that income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s and, in most states, it has grown in the post–Great Recession era. From 2009 to 2015, the incomes of the top 1 percent grew faster than the incomes of the bottom 99 percent in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

(Infographics:  Economic Policy Institute;