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.
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.
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.
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
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
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."