Former firefighter creates Emerging Voices Production Company to educate people about Black history

Ina Anderson, who became Bridgeport's first Black female firefighter, is now putting her efforts into the arts to educate about Black history.
Born in South Carolina in 1958, her family moved to Bridgeport when she was 2 years old.
Anderson graduated from Harding High School in 1976 and went to work for Perkin-Elmer. Then, she decided to follow in her brother's footsteps.
"I took the test for the Bridgeport Fire Department amongst 3,000 other people, and in 1994, I went on the job," she says.
Her hiring made history in Bridgeport.
"I was the first Black female firefighter and that was a sacrifice, it was a sacrifice to my children. It was a sacrifice for my family," Anderson says.
Anderson excelled, and in 2001, she became a lieutenant - another significant moment for the city.
"I was its first female officer ever to be promoted," she says.
Her accomplishments opened the door for others.
"We have now two female lieutenants, we have one that's being prepped as a fire chief assistant, we have one that's a pumper engineer," Anderson says.
Anderson still has her original hat preserved in plastic. A neck injury led her to leave the department after 10 years and pursue a new path.
"I am an ordained reverend, but I also all my life loved the arts," she says.
Anderson started doing productions at Mt. Aery Baptist Church, where she was a member of the ministry. Then In 2017, she set out on her own, starting Emerging Voices Production Company.
Her work uses theater to educate by linking history to our world today.
"Looking back, taking from the past so that you can understand it to not repeat it and move forward to the present," Anderson says.
Anderson's family always shared their stories with her growing up. She says she's never looked at Black history as a designated week or month - she lives it every day.
"I am the answered prayer of my great great great great great grandmother, grandfather... a prayer that they never saw to come to fruition," she says. "My responsibility is to have the same for those I shall never see so it's important for me to leave my mark in the world for my children and my children's children."