A slave who died more than 200 years ago in Connecticut but was never buried was given an extraordinary funeral Thursday that included lying in state at the Capitol and a liturgy at an Episcopal Church where he was laid to rest.
A slave who died more than 200 years ago in Connecticut but was never buried was given an extraordinary funeral Thursday that included lying in state at the Capitol and calls for learning from his painful life.
The enslaved man known as Mr. Fortune was buried in a cemetery filled with prominent citizens after a service at the Waterbury church where he had been baptized. Earlier in the day, his remains lay in state in the Capitol rotunda in Hartford.
“Our brother Mr. Fortune has been remembered, and it is with restored dignity his bones shall be buried,” the Rev. Amy D. Welin of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Waterbury told hundreds gathered for the service. “We bury Mr. Fortune not as a slave, but as a child of God who is blessed.”
The Rev. Amy D. Welin of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Waterbury, who will preside at the funeral, said she considers Fortune a parishioner, though one who died long ago.
“I think it’s been a very convoluted path to justice,” Welin said. “I’m hoping we can use this as a learning experience and a time of reflection on how do we as human beings treat one another and how do we deal with issues of diversity now.”
Fortune will be buried near contemporaries who would not even have spoken to him or viewed him as human, said Mullins, president of the southern Connecticut chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians. He noted the use and display of his bones was done without his consent.
“He will be at a place of honor completely contrary to the life he and his family and his colleagues in slavery ever knew,” Mullins said