In 1853, The New Britain Normal School, the founding institution for Central Connecticut State University, graduated its first African American student, Ebenezer D. Bassett. He would then go on to become a noted educator, an influential activist in the anti-slavery movement, as well as this nation's first African American Diplomat as the Minister Resident to Haiti during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.
Bassett's accomplishments were first annually celebrated by the Man Enough Support Initiative at its annual Student Achievement Awards Ceremony. Since 2011, nearly 200 students have been recognized for demonstrating Bassett's character and virtues. In 2014, the CCSU campus, the Connecticut General Assembly, and participating towns and cities, including New Britain, Derby, New Haven, and Hartford, began celebrating Bassett and his historic achievements at the annual Ebenezer D. Bassett Day Celebration and Lecture Series. Through the efforts of the Ebenezer D. Bassett Memorial Committee, steps have been made to memorialize Bassett, on the CCSU campus, by honoring a university buildings with his name.