On October 6, Dean of Yale Divinity School Gregory Sterling dedicated a classroom in honor of James Pennington, the first black student at Yale.
Pennington, who escaped slavery in 1837, was not allowed to speak, ask questions, use the library or even earn an official degree from Yale despite attending classes at the Divinity School.
After his time at Yale, Pennington served as the pastor of the First Hartford Colored Congregational Church and also was the first African-American pastor at New Haven’s Dixwell Avenue Congregational United Church of Christ. He went on to become an abolitionist in New York and is known for caring for former captives of the infamous ship Amistad, who were supposed to be sold as slaves but took over the ship and served jail sentences in New Haven
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