Jeffrey A. Fletcher the owner/collector of the African American Collection, is a life long resident who grew up in South Eastern Connecticut. He is one of four children raised by parents who migrated from the south during the Jim Crow and the turbulent Civil Rights era.
After graduating from high school and college, he began what he refers to one of the many inspirational points in his life that brought him to collecting African American artifacts and memorabilia for the past ten years. He spent fourteen years employed within the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and twenty one years as a Police Officer in the City of New Haven. Where the community he served was a multi-cultural community comprised of African American and Latino neighborhoods.
My daughter Victoria and I have taken numerous items from the collection and placed them on display as part of a traveling exhibit entitled, "Images of America/Challenges of the Badge." The exhibit is a collection of imagery and items which reflect the decades of turbulent times for African Americans in the United States during the period of slavery up to the Civil Rights movement. It brings visitors up close and personal which is an experience some may have only read about or seen in movies.
The exhibit embraces the teachings of tolerance, diversity, unity and educating people that there was a time when imagery played a significant role in how African Americans were perceived. The artifacts and memorabilia may seem to be difficult to view but they are a part of African American history that needs to be told just as much as the triumphs which were made by African American pioneers and trailblazers.
The "Images of America/Challenges of the Badge" traveling exhibit has been graciously highlighted by The New Haven Register and hosted by Numerous Connecticut schools. The New Light School, Bacon Academy High School, Ansonia Free Public Library, Ansonia Middle School, the Town of Stratford Recreational Center and The State Chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. and the East Haven Police Department.
The exhibit is an opportunity to begin a honest conversation about a strong history which has historically been maligned. The "Images of America/Challenges of the Badge" exhibit is an experience which will educate people of all races, occupations and backgrounds.