Commemorating the birthday of Alexander Twilight

Published: Sep. 25, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
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BROWNINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - People from across Vermont made their way to the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington to commemorate the birthday of a historic figure for education in America.

“We’re celebrating the 227th birthday of Alexander Twilight,” said Carmen Jackson. the board of trustees president for the Old Stone House.

Alexander Twilight was the first African American to obtain a bachelor’s degree in the United States, a piece of history the area is proud to represent.

“That was Middlebury in 1823. And he is also now widely known as the first African American to have been an elected state official. He was elected to the Vermont state House of Representatives in 1836. While the same year actually, he finished this building the dormitory, which he is now really famous for as well,” said Molly Veysey, the executive director of the Old Stone House.

Twilight also preached at the Brownington Congregational Church and later came to serve as the headmaster of the Orleans County Grammar School, where he designed and built Athenian Hall-- also known as the Old Stone House-- to house his students.

“He was a major contributor to the life and the existence of the Northeast Kingdom... his influence was significant in this area,” said Jackson.

At the celebration, people and children were encouraged to learn all they could about Twilight. Organizers say the event was a continuation of their commitment to celebrating the area’s local history.

“We really wanted to engage our local community as well as our local schools because they’re in session, they have the opportunity right now to be a part of it,” said Veysey.

People there also say that continuing to commemorate Twilight as a prominent African American historical figure is an important representation for people of color in Vermont.

“Alexander Twilight was a gentleman of color. So that’s most unusual for this area. And I think it can be inspirational and perhaps make those of us who are people of color feel a little more welcome, like we do belong here in Vermont,” said Jackson.