A collaboration of the Salisbury Historical Association Society and the Scoville Memorial Library
In 2016 in his newly purchased house on Farnum Road McEachern discovered, hidden in the attic, a cache of photographs from the 1930s to the 1970s. The home and photographs were previously owned by the Fowlkes family, one of several black families who made a life here in this small, mostly white, rural Connecticut town. Recognizing the historical importance of the images, he developed a proposal to use the photo archives as a starting point to teach a course at Salisbury School, “Black History in Rural Connecticut.”
This is a story of people living their lives in a community, working, contributing, fitting in, or not. There is a more diverse history than one would expect when you look around town in 2018. As he got to know more of this story of Black families in the northwest corner, it became evident that Salisbury and its environs has a rich history that is not apparent unless you do some digging. As the black community grew in town in the first half of the 20th century, interactions increased, and friendships ensued. But this was also a period of intense segregation in our country and the North was no exception. It is a complicated scenario set on a backdrop of good intent as well as racism.
Peter McEachern, a Connecticut native, has toured and recorded three CDs for Polygram with Blues legend Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown; has worked and recorded with minimalist composer Lamonte Young, and is featured on several important CDs with different artists. He is a member of The CT Composing Improvisers Project and is the Chairman of the Music Department at Salisbury School. McEachern is a busy freelance artist in the tri-state area and teaching artist at the Litchfield Jazz Camp since 1998. In addition Peter was in the award winning film “Night Bird Song”. The film tells the story of Jazz great Thomas Chapin a colleague and close friend who died from Leukemia at age 40 just as his musical career was taking off. Peter has a newly released CD,”Bone Code”.