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New London to honor former slave during Black History Month

New London — Feb. 28, the last day of Black History Month, will be Ichabod Pease Day here, named for a man who was born into slavery and went on to establish the city’s first school for Black children.

Mayor Michael Passero will declare the honor during a 6 p.m. virtual ceremony Sunday. The event will feature presentations and comments from city officials, historians, high school students and more, about Pease and other important Black figures from the city’s past.

It will be streamed online on the city’s Facebook page, facebook.com/CityofNewLondonCT.

Pease was born into slavery on Fisher’s Island in 1755, according to a news release from the city. In 1779, he escaped from his owner, who planned to relocate him to North Carolina without his wife, Rose. For a time, he lived as a fugitive in New London before being re-enslaved, but was emancipated in 1794, the release said. In 1837, as anti-abolitionist sentiments and controversy over schooling Black children divided the city and the rest of the nation, the then 81-year-old Pease took a stand by starting the first school for Black children in his own home.

“Ichabod Pease is a true New London hero who deserves to be celebrated,” Passero said in the release. “His endurance, resilience, and commitment to racial justice still resonate today, 179 years after his death. His life story of perseverance in the face of adversity, like other determined and accomplished black New Londoners, had been nearly lost to history. In proclaiming February 28th as Ichabod Pease Day, I urge all New Londoners to remember his legacy as we continue the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality.”

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