In 1876, New Haven resident Edward Alexander Bouchet became the first African American to earn a doctorate degree in the United States. 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.
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.