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Gertrude Blanks Storytelling Event: Your Journey, Your Story

June 11 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

Your Journey, Your Story: The Immigrant Experience

The immigrant story is the American story, though each immigrant experience is as unique and complex as the individual who lived it. Listen as three of our West Hartford neighbors share their journeys—from their country of origin to how they came to be a part of our community, including the challenges, triumphs, and ongoing struggles. Our storytellers are Adeebah AldabaanTiec Lê, and Rebeca Michelena. Stories will be followed by Q&A, light refreshments, and conversation.

This annual celebration of storytelling and community is co-hosted by West Hartford Public Library, First Church of West Hartford, and the Office of Equity Advancement.

About Gertrude Blanks

Gertrude Blanks was born in Baltimore, MD and moved to Hartford, CT as a young child in the early 1920s. She lived with her grandparents on Pliny Street, while her mother worked as a domestic in a West Hartford home. Blanks attended Arsenal School. When her grandfather passed and she had to move in with her mother in the West Hartford home she tended to, Blanks attended Hall High School. Blanks became the first Black American student to graduate from Hall High School in 1938.

Storytelling became her special time with her mother and a way to feel connected to her people and her history. She developed her gift of storytelling and worked at the Hartford Public Library for more than 20 years facilitating story times and continuing that tradition with many schools and organizations seeking her services until her late years of life. She was an inspiration for the many poets and storytellers that followed her legacy. “Mama Blanks,” as she was known, was a former Hartford librarian who made the telling of her stories come to life for many youngsters and adults in the West Hartford and greater Hartford communities through this rich oral tradition.


There is limited free parking available behind First Church. If this lot is full, we recommend parking in Isham Garage. Do not pay for parking in the garage. Once inside the event, staff will validate your parking by entering your license plate.

Entering First Church

Enter through the Rotunda Entrance at the back of the church.

This program is generously supported by the Thomas F. Kilfoil Memorial Bequest, West Hartford Library Foundation.



First Church of West Hartford
12 South Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06107 United States
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June 11
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
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West Hartford Public Library
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