Author Calvin Alexander Ramsey To Discuss Pioneering Ph.D. Recipient Edward Alexander Bouchet at New Haven Museum

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Author Calvin Alexander Ramsey To Discuss Pioneering Ph.D. Recipient Edward Alexander Bouchet at New Haven Museum

In 1876, New Haven resident Edward Alexander Bouchet became the first African American to earn a doctorate degree in the United States. On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at 5:30 p.m., playwright Calvin Alexander Ramsey will visit the New Haven Museum to share Bouchet's little-known story and emphasize the steadfast support of his parents and members of the New Haven community along the way. Admission is free.

Ramsey's objective is to shed light on the overlooked and sometimes missing pages of African American history, and says his work is guided by the African proverb: When an old person dies, it's like a library burning down. He is currently developing a play on Bouchet, "Dr.Edward Alexander Bouchet: A Man In Full," who was one of the first African Americans to attend Yale University. While focusing in part, Ramsey notes he hopes to provide attendees with "insight into a man who has been lost to us for a very long time." He will discuss how both the local African American community and the white communities supported Bouchet, and how he gave back "because so many presented him with an opportunity to reach above his head."

Bouchet was born in New Haven in 1852. He attended the Artisan Street Colored School, followed by New Haven High School for two years, and transferred to the Hopkins School where he was named valedictorian and graduated first in his class. He ranked sixth in his class at Yale, where he continued and became one of the first six people in the United States to receive a doctorate in physics.

Following college, Bouchet was unable to find a university teaching position due to racial discrimination. He taught physics and chemistry for 26 years at the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania) in Philadelphia, resigning in 1902. He spent the next 14 years in a variety of teaching and administrative jobs around the country. Poor health forced him to retire in 1916. He returned to his childhood home on Bradley Street where he died in 1918, at the age of 66. His funeral was at St. James Episcopal Church in Fair Haven and he is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Ramsey was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Roxboro, North Carolina. It was his ambition to become a writer since childhood. He attended the Frank Silvera's Writer's Workshop and classes at University of California, Los Angles, and participated in other creative-writing training opportunities. He served on the Advisory Board of Special Collections at Emory University's Woodruff Library.

Ramsey's first work, "The Green Book," a one-act play about the difficulties African Americans faced while traveling during the Jim Crow era was a finalist in the 12th Annual Last Frontier Theater Conference held in Valdez, Alaska. Ramsey's other works include "Ruth and the Green Book" "Belle, the Last Mule at Gee's Bend: A Civil Rights Story." His plays include The Green Book: A Play;" "Sherman Town: Baseball, Apple Pie and the Ku Klux Klan;" "Canada Lee:" Sister Soldier;" "Damaged Virtues" and "Enlightenment." His musicals include "Somewhere in My Lifetime;""Bricktop," co-authored with Tom Jones; "The Age of Possibilities;" "Johnny Mercer" and "Kentucky Avenue."

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