African-American Migration from the South, 1940-1970


Bethel A.M.E. is Norwalk’s oldest African American Episcopal church. In 1989 members repeated their August 1959 march with parishioners proudly walking from their original home on Knight Street to the current sanctuary on the corner of Academy and Merwin Streets | Local History Room, Norwalk Public Library

The call for equality was fervent with the second wave of blacks fleeing Jim Crow laws of the South. Community leaders advocated civil rights agendas and inspired residents to effect change. New and existing black churches swelled with members. Concerned citizens from across town established the Carver Center and N.A.A.C.P. and C.O.R.E. chapters to support growing needs of minorities and low income families.

The collective voice of Norwalk’s religious, education and community leaders often brought forth peaceful responses to momentous events of the Civil Rights Era.


came to Norwalk in 1942 from Richmond, Virginia to provide leadership to the growing congregation of Grace Baptist Church and to champion civil rights.

Reverend John Purcell Ball | The Hour Archive, Local History Room, Norwalk Public Library


Village Creek plan, 1952 | Local History Room, Norwalk Public Library

With the black middle class relatively small, bank loans to African Americans rare and realtors demonstrating bias on grounds of race and religion, few minority families owned single family homes in the 1940s and ’50s. If one could afford it, an option was Village Creek, established in 1949 as an interracial development.

Village Creek had its limits too. In 1961 Charles Vaught sued the homeowner’s association for discrimination on the grounds of racial balance. Because the house, under contract for $21,000, “was one of the last three in the section still occupied by whites,” the president “felt that the area might become a Negro ‘ghetto’,” The New York Times reported.

Village Creek residents at the association’s beach, 1961 | Local History Room, Norwalk Public Library