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Country School Students Seek to Research, Honor Lives of Local Enslaved Persons

by Jesse Williams, Source Reporter

While slavery has remained a consistent, underlying thread causing harm and affecting communities throughout the country, the realities of what slavery looked like in any given place often remains unexplored, according to Dennis Culliton, a former Guilford teacher who has made it his mission to tell those stories and honor those individuals. Due to the efforts of local students, the story of individuals who lived in slavery in Madison will soon be shared.

Culliton is co-founder and executive director of The Witness Stones Project Inc., which seeks to shine a light on the history of slavery while honoring the lives of enslaved persons. Beginning in Guilford, where Culliton taught social studies for many years, the project has now arrived in Madison, as students from The Country School presented an early portion of their research to the Board of Selectmen on Nov. 12.

The project is a unique and in-depth process that has students engage the town community as they use primary sources and other local resources to learn about an enslaved individual who lived in their town before eventually installing a public marker of some kind—often an engraved stone—at a place in town where that individual “lived, worked, or prayed,” according to Witness Stones’ website witnessstones.org.

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