This commentary was read into the record at Monday’s Board of Education meeting rejecting allegations leveled by board member Chris Taylor.
I am E. Webb Bassick IV, the oldest survivor of Edgar Webb Bassick who contributed the property for the construction of Bassick High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The purpose of this statement is to refute an on-the-record remark made by school Board member Chris Taylor asserting that my relatives, specifically Edgar Webb Bassick and/or his father (my great, great grandfather), Edmund Chase Bassick, made their fortune while engaged in the slave trade.
I have read all of the available published literature about both my great grandfather as well as my great, great grandfather. There is no suggestion in any published or private information that either of my relatives were engaged in any way in the slave trade, not to mention making a “fortune” from it. Further to this point, Edmund Chase Bassick founded the Bassick Gold Mine in Custer County Colorado in 1877, twelve years AFTER the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was officially adopted on December 18, 1865. Prior to discovering gold; Edmund was a day laborer at the Centennial Mine a few miles away. The Bassick Company was founded by Edgar Webb Bassick around 1911, again, thirty-five years after slavery ended. Please note he started his business career as a $9-a-week laborer in a machine tool factory in Bridgeport in 1897. Neither of these relatives of mine brought any “fortune” into their business careers. And none of my relatives had any involvement with slavery or the slave trade.
I am proud of what both my great grandfather and great, great grandfather did for Bridgeport. It is sad and disappointing to me and to my family that Chris Taylor chose to attempt to sully their names and to disparage the work they did for Bridgeport.
It is clear that when Mr. Taylor made the comment that my great, great grandfather was involved in the slave trade, the vast majority of school board members, including the Chair, failed to admonish Mr. Taylor for his incredibly offensive and slanderous remarks. In fact, only Ms. Pereira challenged his baseless assertions and attempted to correct the record on behalf of the Bassick family.
In closing, in consultation with our family attorney, he feels quite certain that because Mr. Taylor made these slanderous remarks in his capacity as a school board member during a school board meeting; the Bridgeport Board of Education could be held liable in a court of law for slander, and our family would be entitled to compensatory damages for denigrating our family name.
On behalf of the Bassick Family, it is our expectation that Mr. Taylor issue a formal apology to the Bassick family and that it be published both on the Bridgeport Public School website, and in the local newspaper of record for Bridgeport which published Mr. Taylor’s slanderous remarks. I would hope that Mr. Taylor would correct the record.
E. Webb Bassick IV