Neglected – Boston Globe article, etc.

June 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm (African Americans in RI, Freedom Festival)

so, hello everyone, finally a blog entry that looks like a blog entry (what do I know???) – i.e. the more personalized version of communication. I’ve uploaded lots of lists and reference tools and all sorts of materials and thoughts, and will continue to do so, but thought it might be refreshing just to say HELLO to anyone landing here for the first time. I’ll also try to intersperse quick quirky updates along with the more serious material.

We’re really excited about this new programming initiative “On the Road to Freedom: African American Heritage in Rhode Island” and are daily reminded how important this work really is. As we collect these “neglected” or sometimes “hidden” stories, we look forward to sharing them with you. We are convening groups statewide who are participating in the upcoming “Freedom Festival” taking place between October 9-October 20th – more on that soon. Just to tease you, keynote speakers Paula J. Giddings and Ira Berlin will both participate. There will be a Family Festival at the Cathedral of Life Assembly in Olneyville in Providence; several film screenings (Oscar Michaeux) and gospel concerts in Newport, and Providence; salons about free black life, taking place in Pawtucket, Providence and Westerly…details momentarily!

Slavery and its legacies are just part of this story. In today’s Boston Globe, Vanessa E. Jones writes a compelling article entitled “Neglected – Some say New Englanders are ignoring the commemoration of slavery’s end.” Check it out

loads of Rhode Island references.

did I say short and sweet (or did I just think it?) – well therefore I’ll say farewell until next time…



Ted Widmer, Director of the John Carter Brown Library (Brown U.) and Risa at the Frederick Douglass Book Prize ceremony, Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale Club NYC. This years prizewinner was Christopher Leslie Brown for his book “Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism.”

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Historic Calendar of Events in RI, related to African American Heritage

June 16, 2008 at 3:21 pm (African Americans in RI, Research)

January 3, 1859 James Howland, the last slave in Rhode Island, dies in Jamestown.
January 9, 1901 Edward M. Bannister, well-known painter and philanthropist, dies in Providence.

January 12, 1914 First meeting of the Providence Branch NAACP, with Dr. Julius Robinson as the first President and Roberta J. Dunbar as Secretary.

January 14, 1790 African Union Society meets in Newport to prescribe burial procedures for Blacks.

January 18, 1867 A circular entitled “Famine at Home” read to the Freedman’s Aid Society in East Greenwich.

January 26, 1866 Mrs. Josephine Griffing, of East Greenwich, commended by the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands.
January 28, 1849 Benjamin Burton of Newport goes to California to seek his fortune in the Gold Rush.

January 29, 1789 First meeting of the Providence Abolitionist Society.

February 1, 1836 Anti-Slavery Convention held in Providence.
February 2, 1778 The RI General Assembly passes legislation to raise a troop of Black Soldiers.
February 7, 1860 African Union Church established in Providence.
February 13, 1784 RI Assembly legislates that all children of slaves born after March 1 shall be born free.
February 19, 1672 A black servant to Samuel Reep complains to officials of Providence about his mistreatment at the home of Mr. Reep.
February 20, 1936 John Hope, President of Atlanta University and 1894 graduate of Brown University, dies.
February 23, 1784 RI General Assembly passes Negro Emancipation Act.
February 24, 1869 Shiloh Baptist Church in Newport first used for church purposes.

March 1, 1784 RI General Assembly passes law that henceforth, all Negroes born of slaves should be freed at the age of 21 for males and 18 for females.
March 3, 1744 Primus, a mulatto, and widow Hannah Toby, a Native American woman, both of South Kingstown, are married.
March 7, 1886 RI General Assembly passes school integration act.
March 9, 1819 African Meeting House opens in Providence.
March 10, 1808 African Benevolent Society opens the first African free school in America in Newport.
March 19, 1708 There are 426 blacks in Rhode Island, with 220 of this number residing in Newport.
March 22, 1746 James Hazard, a mulatto, and Sarah Sam, a Native American woman, marry in South Kingstown.
March 23, 1881 RI General Assembly recognizes marriages between blacks and whites.

March 26, 1848 In the first of several such acts, the RI General Assembly passes a fugitive slave law prohibiting assisting runaway slaves.

April 3, 1976 RI Black Historical Society’s first annual Edward M. Bannister Forum
April 12, 1810 Free African Colonization Society organized in Newport.
April 14, 1832 Eleanor Elldredge of Providence goes to court and successfully defends her brother against charges of assault.
April 18, 1788 William Dyre of South Kingstown files his will manumitting his Negro servant, Prince.
April 24, 1910 Rev. M.A. Van Horne, Pastor of Union Congregational Church in Newport for 29 years, dies in Antigua.

May 4, 1861 Moses Brown deeds his lot to build a meetinghouse at Congdon and Angell Streets in Providence.
May 5, 1885 Daniel Harry dies in Wakefield.
May 10, 1864 First Black Shiloh Church organized in Newport.
May 21, 1803 The “India Point” leaves Providence for Liverpool, England, with three Blacks in the crew.
May 22, 1885 The Narragansett Times carries story on burial of Daniel Harry in Peacedale.
May 24, 1918 The Narragansett Times reports Frederick Olney’s death.

June 1, 1874 Union A.M.E. Church organized in Providence.

June 5, 1880 The Providence Art Club founded in studio of Edward Bannister, famed landscape artist.

June 7, 1759 Silas Casey of East Greenwich and Abigail Coggeshall of North Kingstown marry.
June 10, 1772 Aaron Briggs participates in burning of British schooner “Gaspee” off Pawtuxet.

June 11, 1731 Phillip, Anthony, and Agnes Berkley are baptized by Henry Berkeley, son of the Bishop and philosopher of Whitehall, and are received into Trinity Church,

July 3, 1790 The Brown Fellowship Society was founded by “free Brown men” to give aid and comfort to one another in times of need.
July 9, 17777 Jack Sisson participates in capture of British General Prescott in Portsmouth.
July 10, 1891 Ruth E. Occomy, nurse and missionary, is born in Providence.
July 16, 1862 Frederick C. Olney, criminal lawyer, born in Wakefield.

July 21, 1903 George Downing, who donated land to the City of Newport, dies.

July 24, 1935 Charles Battle, author of Negroes on Aquidneck Island, dies.
July 28, 1778 The newly recruited RI Black Regiment is sent to General Sullivan’s army in Providence for its first missions.
July 29, 1765 The Nicholas Brown Co. sent the ship “Sally” to Africa; 109 of the 167 Africans died on the return voyage to RI.

August 3, 1805 Daniel Rodman born in Wakefield.
August 8, 1864 The RI Association of freedmen formed.

August 12, 1776 Caesar Lyndon’s picnic in Portsmouth.
August 17, 1906 Oliver Burton, Newport civic leader, policeman, and businessman, born.
August 23, 1772 Mingo, a Negro belonging to Col. Silas Niles, and Dinah, a Negro belonging to Jeremiah Niles, Esq., marry in South Kingstown.
August 30, 1835 The Free Will Church splits from the African Union Meeting House in Providence an erects a church on Pond Street.
August 31, 1821 African Union Meeting House opens in Providence on Meeting and Congdon Streets.

September 2, 1787 Dr. Will Thornton of the West Indies African Union Society arrives in Providence.

September 3, 1887 Rev. Van Horne speaks at dedication of Lenthal School in Newport.

September 3, 1912 Josephine Silone Yates, first Black graduate of Rogers High School, Newport, dies.

September 6, 1750 RI General Assembly passes law that any White householder who allowed a slave to engage in “dancing, gaming, or any other diversions whatsoever” was subject to a fine of 50 pounds or 1 month in jail.
September 7, 1839 First Public School for Blacks opened in Providence.
September 7, 1861 London Weeden dies in South County.
September 10, 1839 The Underground Railroad is set up in Newport and Providence.
September 14, 1977 Bethel A.M.E. Church burns in Providence.
September 15, 1940 James N. Williams becomes Executive Secretary of newly established Providence Urban League.
September 16, 1793 William Robinson of Portsmouth is named Executor in the estate of Quoco Robinson, a Black man, in South Kingstown.
September 21, 1831 Snowtown riot at foot of Olney Street in Providence.

October 1, 1868 Rev. M.A. Van Horne, pastor of Union Congregational Church, arrives in Newport.
October 3, 1835 George McCarthy sold several Meeting Street lots to local Providence citizens.
October 5, 1827 Harmony Lodge formed in Providence.

October 6, 1776 Caesar Lyndon marries Sarah Searing.
October 6, 1885 Benjamin Burton, early Black businessman in Newport, dies.
October 8, 1841 Blacks petition in RI for right to vote at People’s Convention.
October 8, 1894 Mt. Olivet Baptist Church organized in Newport.
October 11, 1839 Two-thirds of Blacks in Providence live in their own homes.
October 12, 1856 Thomas Howland becomes the first Black wardsman from Providence.
October 17, 1736 William Enos and Sarah Lad marry in South Kingstown.
October 18, 1824 “Hardscrabble Riots” racial riots in Providence.
October 20, 1841 George Fayerweather dies in Kingston.
October 21, 1841 Blacks owned grocery stores, candy stores, shoe repair shops and clothing stores in Rhode Island.
October 22, 1792 Isaac Rice, who landscaped Touro Park in Newport and used his home in Newport as a station on the Underground Railroad, born in Narragansett.
October 24, 1899 Emma Elmira, a Black, marries Henry van Tassel, a White, in Newport.
October 26, 1763 Rev. Marmaduke Brown, rector of Trinity Church, opens a school for colored children in Newport.
October 27, 1887 Rev. Van Horne states that three-fourths of the Black population in Newport are small property owners.
October 28, 1779 RI Legislature passes an Act prohibiting the sale of slaves outside the state against the will of the slave, “unless he proves to be a person of bad character.”
October 29, 1865 Freedmen’s Aid Society is organized in Greenwich.

November 1, 1868 Rev. Van Horne becomes pastor of Union Congregational Church, Newport.
November 10, 1780 African Union Society, first organization of free Blacks in America, founded in Newport.
November 10, 1975 Rhode Island Black Heritage Society receives its own charter.
November 23, 1842 Town Act for “Colored Suffrage” in Middletown, RI.
November 27, 1842 The Dorr Rebellion resulted in the Legal Party pushing through a new constitution that gave Blacks in RI voting privileges.

December 6, 1805 Sloop Juliet sets sail from Newport to Africa with complement of Black crewmen.
December 8, 1840 Meeting Street Church is established in Providence.
December 9, 1781 RI’s General Nathanael Greene tells the Governor of South Carolina that slave enlistments are necessary to protect that state’s territory.

December 11, 1755 There are 1,234 Blacks in Newport; one in three persons in Washington County is black; there are 418 Blacks to 712 Whites in Charlestown, RI.
December 17, 1843 Frederick Douglass speaks at the Little Compton Abolitionist Society.

December 21, 1807 A number of colored people meet at the home of Abraham Casey on Levin Street in Newport to discuss the plans of the African Union Society.
December 28, 1976 Grace Anderson Gibbs of Providence celebrates her 105th birthday.

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Film List – What has Risa been watching?

June 9, 2008 at 3:38 pm (Uncategorized)

Films (in alphabetical order) that Risa has watched related to “On the Road to Freedom” – most are available through the CLAN Library system –

Risa’s own quirky rating system:

***** DON”T MISS

**** Excellent

*** Good, worthwhile

** Okay

* Don’t bother

African American Lives I and II, 2006, 2008

I: Using genealogy, oral history, family stories and DNA analysis to trace lineage through American history and back to Africa, the series provides a life-changing journey for a diverse group of highly accomplished African Americans.
II: African American Lives 2 again journeys deep into ancestry of an all-new group of remarkable individuals, offering an in-depth look at the African-American experience and race relations throughout U.S. history.

Africans in America – America’s Journey Through Slavery, 1998

This television series examines the historical roots of some of today’s most disturbing social problems by asking tough questions: How did America build a new nation based on principles of liberty and equality while justifying the existence of slavery? Did American slavery and American freedom have to exist side by side in the nation? How has this history shaped current views about race?

Amazing Grace, 2007

The film is based on the life of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce, who navigated the world of 18th Century backroom politics to end the slave trade in the British Empire.

America’s Dream, 1996

Adaptation of three short stories by black writers: Long Black Song by Maya Angelou, The Boy Who Painted Christ Black by Richard Wright and Reunion by John Henrik Clarke.

American Experience – Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind

Marcus Garvey is the dramatic story of the rise and fall of a controversial African American leader who influenced politics and culture around the world.

American Experience – Murder of Emmett Till, 2003

Emmet Till is the story of the brutal murder of a fourteen-year-old black boy unschooled in the racial customs of the South by two white men. Taking place in 1955, the film exposes the murder and trial that helped mobilize the civil rights movement.

American Experience – Scottsboro: an American Tragedy,

The tale of Scottsboro tells the story of nine black teens falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931. The conflict would draw North and South into their sharpest clash since the Civil War, yield two momentous Supreme Court decisions and give birth to the Civil Rights Movement.

Amistad, 1997

Amistad is about an 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the Northeast Coast of America. Much of the story involves a courtroom drama about the free man who led the revolt.

And the Children Shall Lead, 1985

In 1964 segregation is a reality in Catesville, Mississippi, but 12-year-old Rachel doesn’t notice it because she has many white friends. When a group of civil rights activists comes to town, the tension between black and white citizens grows. It’s now up to Rachel and her friends to persuade the adults to overcome the racial barriers that divide them.

Bamboozled, 2000

A frustrated African American TV writer proposes a blackface minstrel show in protest, but to his chagrin it becomes a hit.

Band of Angels, 1957

When Amantha’s wealthy father dies, she finds out two hidden truths about her life: her family is deep in debt, and she has some African-American blood in her veins. She is forced to drop out of the exclusive girls’ school she was attending, and faces the prospect of being sold into slavery in New Orleans.

Black and White, 1991

In this film, a young female immigrant leaves an abusive relationship with her boyfriend only to be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous landlord who uses her as a prostitute when she is unable to come up with the rent money.

Black Indians: an American Story, 2000

Black Indians from many walks of life (including workers, scholars, and artists) discuss the search for, and expression of, their unique identity — and the racial tensions and stereotyping they have encountered in their lives.

Boycott, 2001

Boycott recounts the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Brother John, 1970

In this film, Brother John makes it his mission to purge a small Alabama town of all hatred and prejudice. Trouble is, he’s black, and it’s Alabama-so who’s going to pay attention?

Brother to Brother, 2004

Brother to Brother is a feature length narrative film that follows the emotional and psychological journey of a young Black gay artist as he discovers the hidden legacies of the gay and lesbian subcultures within the Harlem Renaissance.

Brown Sugar, 2002

This romantic comedy, described as an African-American When Harry Met Sally, centers on a romance between an exec at a hip-hop label, Dre, and a magazine editor, Sidney, who have known each other since childhood.

Buffalo Soldiers, 1997

Buffalo Soldiers is a historical account of the all-black US Cavalry Troop H that protected the Western territories in post-Civil War times. The story focuses on the troops attempts to capture an Apache warrior named Vittorio who slaughters the settlers in New Mexico.

Cabin in the Sky, 1943

In this film, a compulsive gambler dies during a shooting, but he’ll receive a second chance to reform himself and to make up with his worried wife.

Carbon Copy, 1981

A white corporate executive is surprised to discover that he has a black teenage son who can’t wait to be adopted into an almost exclusively white community.

Carmen Jones, 1954

Carmen Jones is a contemporary version of the Bizet opera, with new lyrics and an African-American cast.

Chasing Secrets, 1999

A young girl stuck in a horrific cycle of familial violence finds the power to build her own future from the place she least suspected in an inspiring tale of friendship and devotion.

Classified X, 1997

In this documentary, black filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles examines African-American film history. Narrating while clips, stills, and location shots are seen behind him in a rear projection, Van Peebles’ commentary covers a wide range of racial stereotyping.

Daughters of the Dust, 1991

Set in 1902, Daughters of the Dust takes a languid look at the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where African folkways were maintained well into the 20th Century and was one of the last bastions of these mores in America.

Deep in My Heart, 1998

This film, based on true events, tells the story of an African-American woman who was given up for adoption in infancy and searches for her biological mother as an adult.

The Defiant Ones, 1958

Two escaped convicts chained together, one white and one black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture.

Disappearing Acts, 2000

An aspiring singer and an almost divorced construction worker hoping to start his own business meet and fall in love and during the course of a stormy relationship, and they both come to some startling conclusions about love and each other.

Disney’s Ruby Bridges, 1998

This film is a historical dramatization of the triumph of six-year-old Ruby Bridges, one of the first African-American students to integrate a public elementary school in New Orleans.

Down in the Delta, 1998

An elderly African-American woman, desperate to get her family out of the Chicago projects, sends them to live with her brother-in-law in Mississippi. The family finds strength in its hometown roots, and each family member begins the difficult task of rebuilding his or her life.

Eve’s Bayou, 1997

A well-respected doctor’s infidelity takes a toll on his children and his wife, who all act out in different ways.

Eyes on the Prize, 1986

This TV documentary tells the story of the American Civil Rights Movement from 1952 to 1965.

Fatal Beauty, 1987

A tough female plainclothes officer (Whoopi Goldberg) hunts down the murderous drug dealers who are distributing a stolen shipment of lethally potent cocaine all over L.A.

Five Heartbeats, 1991

This film tells the story of the rise and fall of an African-American vocal group in the 1960s that discovers the reality of the music industry with its casual racism and greed.

For Us, the Living, 1983

The story of black civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, who worked as field director in Jackson, Mississippi, for the NAACP, and who, after delivering a speech in which he vowed to complete the task of assuring equal right to the African-Americans of Jackson, was assassinated on June 11, 1963.

Four Little Girls, 1997

This Spike Lee film recounts the people and events leading up to the one of the most despicable hate-crimes during the height of the civil-rights movement, the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Friday, 1995

Having just been canned from his job on his day off, Craig and his best friend Smokey spend the day smoking up in their South Central neighborhood while dealing with a neighborhood bully, relationship troubles, an angry drug dealer, and a lot of other odd characters.

Ghosts of Mississippi, 1996

Ghosts of Mississippi is a drama covering the final trial of the assassin, Bryon De La Beckwith, who killed the 1960s civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Glory, 1989

Robert Gould Shaw leads the US Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates.

The Great White Hope 1970

A black champion boxer and his white female companion struggle to survive while the white boxing establishment looks for ways to knock him down.

Green Pastures, 1935

God, heaven, and several Old Testament stories, including the Creation and Noah’s Ark, are described from the perspective of rural, black Americans.  In the DVD that I watched there was an interesting “short” with Sammy Davis Jr., aged 7!, running for President!

Harlem Nights, 1989

“Sugar” Ray is the owner of an illegal casino in the 1920s who contends with the pressures of vicious gangster and corrupt policemen who want to see him go out of business.

Holiday Heart, 2000

Holiday Heart is a tenderly tearful story about love, discrimination, and survival. The movie stars Ving Rhames as the title character, Holiday–a church-loving, flamboyant gay drag queen with a heart of gold who takes on the care of a drug-addicted mother and her young daughter.

Hollywood Shuffle, 1987

When small-town African-American actor Bobby Taylor wins a pimp-daddy part in a new film, he is forced to choose between accepting work that opens doors, but ultimately demeans him or returning to obscurity with his principles intact.

Imitation of Life, 1959

A struggling young actress with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.

Island in the Sun 1957

Set on a fictitious island in the Caribbean during colonial British rule, this film focuses on the life of a young charismatic and handsome black male with political aspirations.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash, 1986

The tides of an underappreciated data clerk’s life turn when one day she picks up a transmission from a British spy trapped in Eastern Europe, who has the code name of Jumpin’ Jack Flash; he enlists the clerk’s help in securing an exit contract, sending her on quirky excursions to help him escape and avoid foul play.

Knights of the South Bronx, 2005

A businessman decides that he wants to teach school in the inner city and chooses a tough school in the South Bronx. He teaches the children how to play the game of chess, and along the way they learn a lot about life.

Lackawanna Blues, 2005

In a story fueled by rhythm and blues, a young boy’s life is shaped by love and the stories of a cast of characters in the boarding house where he lives in 1960s Lackawanna, New York.

Last Place on Earth, 2002

Independent filmmaker James Slocum directs the romantic drama The Last Place on Earth, filmed in the Sierra Nevada mountain region of Northern California. Dana Ashbrook plays Rob Baskin, a businessman who travels to Lake Tahoe in order to spread the ashes of his late mother. Along the way, he meets Ann Field, a woman who’s dying of a terminal illness.

A Lesson Before Dying, 1999

This film is an uplifting tale of a black man in the 1940’s South who is wrongly accused of killing a white man. His attorney’s only defense is that he is an animal, a hog, and, therefore, is unaccountable for his actions. Distraught in a prison cell, his family convinces the local schoolteacher to visit him and restore his deflated dignity.

Life, 1999

The film Life is the story of two criminals who discover the value of life after being sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Long Walk Home, 1991

In the midst of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, dignified domestic worker Odessa Cotter does her part by walking the nine miles to her job at the home of civic-minded white socialite Miriam Thompson. When Miriam discovers Odessa’s hardship, she volunteers rides, but her well-intentioned act earns her the wrath of the racist White Citizens’ Council.

Love Jones, 1997

Darius Lovehall is a young black poet in Chicago who starts dating Nina Moseley, a beautiful and talented photographer. Nina tests the strength of Darius’ feelings and sets a chain of romantic complications into motion.

Lying Lips, 1939

Edna Mae Harris stars as a nightclub singer who is wrongly convicted and sent to prison for the murder of her aunt. Benjamin, who is in love with her, sets out to clear her name. The film was directed by Oscar Micheaux and produced by the distinguished black aviator Colonel Hubert Julian.

Made in America, 1993

A light-skinned 17 year-old girl, conceived by artificial insemination and believing that her father is dead, discovers that he is alive, white, and the obnoxious local cable car salesman. She, her African-American bookstore-owner mother, and her newly found father must deal with what this revelation means for them.

Malcolm X, 1992

This film is a biography of Malcolm X, the famous African American leader.

Mama Flora’s Family, 1998

Miniseries from Alex Haley takes up where his “Roots” saga left off. The story spans fifty years and examines the struggles of Mama Flora, the black matriarch, and her family. She instills an understanding of God and family during a time when those ideals were questioned and never backs down as she observes three generations of her family live through the ever-changing American black experience.

Manderlay, 2005

“Manderlay” is the second part of the Danish director Lars von Trier’s projected United States trilogy. In the film, Grace, the persecuted do-good heroine of “Dogville,” travels to Louisiana and takes over a plantation where slavery persists 70 years after its official abolition. As she reorganizes the plantation’s social structure and teaches democracy, she discovers that old, socially ingrained habits of slavery die hard.

Men of Honor, 2000

Men of Honor is the story of Carl Brashear, the first African American US Navy Diver and the man who trained him.

The Middle Passage, HBO, 2000

The ugly realities of the slave trade and the horrible toll it took upon the Africans who fell into its trap are explored in this drama. Filmed largely without dialogue, The Middle Passage follows a vessel filled with captured men, women, and children being shipped from Senegal to America.

Midnight Ramble: The Story of Race Movies

Midnight Ramble concerns Black Hollywood from the period just after World War I through the 1940s. It considers everything from the low budget, independent Race movies of Oscar Micheaux to major studio productions. It’s a tribute to a very misunderstood, and mysterious film genre that lasted for over forty years.

Miss Evers’ Boys, 1997

Miss Evers’ Boys tells the true story of the US Government’s 1932 Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments, in which a group of black test subjects were allowed to die, despite a cure having been developed.

Mississippi Burning, 1989

Two FBI agents investigating the murder of civil rights workers during the 60s seek to breach the conspiracy of silence in a small Southern town where segregation divides black and white.

Money Talks, 1997

A low-level criminal and a struggling newsman become unlikely partners in this comedy. Franklin Hatchett is a fast-talking hustler who runs a small time ticket-scalping business. A TV news story by reporter James Russell brings Franklin’s business to the attention of the police, and he finds himself under arrest. Hoping to clear his name, Franklin approaches Russell with a deal that will help them both.

Murder in Mississippi, 1990

This feature was inspired by the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers later chronicled in the mainstream feature Mississippi Burning. This film, however, is pure exploitation, patterned along the lines of ’60s potboilers like The Black Klansman and Girl on a Chain Gang.

Nightjohn, 1996

Sarny, a 12-year-old slave girl in the ante-bellum South, faces a relatively hopeless life, until a former runaway slave, called Nightjohn takes Sarny under his wing and, in exchange for a pinch of tobacco, secretly begins to teach her to read and write, a crime punishable by death.

Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, 1996

This film relates the story of a tightly connected Afro-American community informally called Colored Town where the inhabitants live and depend on each other in a world where racist oppression is everywhere, as told by a boy called Cliff who spent his childhood there.

Our Friend Martin, 1999

A young student is sent back in time to meet Martin Luther King Jr. to learn what he did for humanity.

The Piano Lesson, 1995

This drama tells the story of an impoverished black family whose history is told in the carvings on the family piano. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano and use the money to buy farmland, but sister Berniece won’t part with it. The critically acclaimed film chronicles their struggle to come to terms with their family’s past and its future.

Pinky, 1949

Pinky Johnson is a pretty, light-skinned Negro nursing student who’s been passing for white, a fact she’s kept secret from her Granny and the young doctor with whom she is in love.

Poetic Justice, 1993

Justice, a hairdresser at a small salon in South Central Los Angeles who uses her poetry to deal with her grief after her boyfriend is killed in a shooting incident at a drive-in. Maya Angelou wrote Justice’s poems.

Pride, 2007

The determined Jim Ellis starts a swim team for troubled teens at the Philadelphia Department of Recreation.

Race to Freedom: Story of the Underground Railroad, 1994

This film uses historical fact as background for a fictional adventure tale. It provides a valuable educational service in detailing the history of the Underground Railroad and the people responsible for its maintenance.

Raisin in the Sun, 1961

A black woman uses her late husband’s life insurance to build a better world for her children.

The Real Eve, 2002

The made-for-cable documentary film The Real Eve is predicated on the theory that the human race can be traced to a common ancestor. The mitochondrial DNA of one prehistoric woman, who lived in Africa, has, according to this theory, been passed down from generation to generation over a span of 150,000 years.

Rebound: the Legend of Earl “The Goat” Manigault, 1996

In this inspirational sports drama, a talented but drug-addicted basketball player cleans up his act and devotes his life to teaching Harlem children to play the game.

Red Sneakers, 2002

A pair of old red sneakers, once worn by an all-star in the Negro Basketball leagues in the 1930’s, transforms a high school student’s life.

The Rosa Parks Story, 2002

The story of the civil rights heroine whose refusal to obey racial bus segregation was just one of her acts in her fight for justice.

Rosewood, 1997

This film is a dramatization of a 1923 horrific racist lynch mob attack on an African American community in Florida.

Sally Hemings: An American Scandal, 2000

This film is the story of the extraordinary, controversial thirty-eight-year relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress, Sally Hemings.

Selma, Lord, Selma, 1999

In 1965 Alabama, an 11-year-old girl is touched by a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. and becomes a devout follower. But her resolution is tested when she joins others in the famed march from Selma to Montgomery.

Separate But Equal, 1991

This film follows the true story of the NAACP court challenge of racial school segregation in the Brown vs. Board of Education. This struggle would destroy the legal validity for racial segregation in general and prove to be the start and the first major victory of the civil rights movement.

Simple Life of Noah Dearborn, 1999

Sitting on 35 acres of Georgia land coveted by a shopping mall developer, 91-year-old Noah Dearborn is untainted by modern life. The girlfriend of one of the developers is a psychologist, and is asked to evaluate Noah for a possible move to have him declared incompetent. But she soon falls under his spell of a simple life and becomes his ally in his fight to keep his land

Slam, 1998

Slam tells the story of Ray Joshua, an original, gifted young MC trapped in a war-zone housing project known as Dodge City. Unable to find a job, Ray copes with the despair and poverty of his neighborhood by using his wits and verbal talent.

Slavery and the Making of America, 2005

Slavery and the Making of America is a four-part PBS series documenting the history of American slavery from its beginnings in the British colonies to its end in the Southern states and the years of post-Civil War Reconstruction. It looks at slavery as an integral part of a developing nation, challenging the long held notion that slavery was exclusively a Southern enterprise.

Small Steps, Big Strides, 1997

This film seeks to document the types of discrimination and unique challenges African-American actors have had to overcome, as well as recent triumphs. It uses both older black-and-white film clips, along with color ones, to review the absence and presence of African-Americans in Hollywood productions over the years.

A Soldier’s Story, 1984

Inspired by the Herman Melville novel Billy Budd, this film is set in the racially divided 1940s, at Fort Neal, Louisiana, a military base where black soldiers are sent not to fight in WWII but to play baseball against other armed forces teams. The murder of a black sergeant, Waters brings an investigator, Captain Davenport to the base to solve the mystery.

Something New, 2006

Kenya McQueen, a corporate lawyer, finds love in the most unexpected place when she agrees to go on a blind date with Brian Kelly, a sexy and free-spirited landscaper.

Something the Lord Made, 2004

Based on a true story, Something the Lord Made tells the absorbing tale of two doctors in the South who bucked tradition and racial prejudice to revolutionize the medical world. Under any other circumstances the men would have been exhilarated by their advances and applauded throughout the medical profession, but the prejudiced heart of the South gets in the way of their success.

Stomp the Yard, 2007

After the death of his brother, an expert street dancer goes to Georgia to attend Truth University, but his efforts to get an education and woo the girl he likes are sidelined when he joins in a fraternity’s effort to win a step dancing competition.

Sugar Hill, 1994

Hardened, uncompromising drug dealer Roemello Skuggs decides to quit his scumbag profession so he may start a new life with his girlfriend. However, he soon learns getting out is nowhere near as easy as getting in, as everything gradually builds up to a dramatic climax.

10,000 Black Men Named George, 2002

During the Depression, the only readily available job for freed slaves was at the Pullman Rail Company, which meant working for meager pay and being addressed only as “George,” after George Pullman, who was the first person to employ freed slaves. Philip Randolph, a black journalist, makes it his mission to help these forgotten workers, and forges ahead to form the first black union in America.

A Time to Kill, 1996

In this film, a young lawyer defends a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the KKK.

Thomas Jefferson, 1996

Portraits, paintings, drawings and excerpts from Jefferson’s journals, letters, scientific papers and political writings help to outline many aspects of his life.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, 2005

This film is a drama set in the 1920s, where free-spirited Janie Crawford’s search for happiness leads her through several different marriages, challenging the morals of her small town. Based on the novel by Zora Neale Hurston.

Tuskegee Airmen


This film tells the true story of a group of African American pilots who overcame racist opposition to become one of the finest US fighter groups in World War II.

Unchained Memories, 2002

This film features a truly impressive array of black actors and actresses verbally recreating the reminiscences of those who lived under the yoke of slavery, based on the transcribed memories of slaves still living in the 1930s.

Unforgivable Blackness – the Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

This film tells the story of Jack Johnson — the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World, whose dominance over his white opponents spurred furious debates and race riots in the early 20th century.

The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, 2004

An incendiary documentary, this film poses a harrowing inquisition into a murder that catalyzed the civil rights movement. The film presents evidence that the killing of Emmett Louis Till was a conspiracy involving many more people than the two Mississippians who were acquitted of the crime in a sham trial.

When the Levees Broke – a Requiem in Four Acts, 2006

In four “acts” of approximately one hour each, this film examines the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the late summer of 2005 and the incorrigible response to the catastrophe from U.S. government agencies. The film then evaluates the overwhelming measures that must be taken for the area to rebound and recover fully, demonstrating time and again that this seems an unlikely prospect in the immediate future.

With All Deliberate Speed, 2004

Documentary filmmaker Peter Gilbert unearths the legacy of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education — where it was ruled that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place” — via never-before-heard stories from people directly responsible for, and greatly affected by, the original case.

A Woman Called Moses, 1978

The made-for-TV movie A Woman Called Moses stars Cicely Tyson as real-life escaped slave Harriet Tubman.

Words By Heart, 1984

Set at the turn of the century, a young girl and her family are the only blacks living in a small Midwestern community, where they face hatred and prejudice.

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Stakeholders/Participants “On the Road to Freedom…”

June 9, 2008 at 1:54 pm (Uncategorized)

On the Road to Freedom: African American Heritage in Rhode Island
Stakeholders/Participants by Category – as of 5/08

State/Municipal/National/Community/Independent Affiliates
Mary-Kim Arnold, ED, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH)
Chuck Arning, National Park Service
Toby Ayers, RICJ
Mark Brodeur, Economic Development Council – RI Tourism
Rita Cidre, Membership Director, WRNI
Ann Clanton, RICJ
Risa Gilpin, Program Director, RICH
Patti Horton, DARE
SueEllen Kroll, Program Director, RICH
Dennis Langley, ED Urban League, Providence
Kathryn Larsen, RIPBS
Peter Lee, ED, John Hope Settlement, Providence
Amanda Frye Leinhos ED, Martin Luther King Center, Newport
Lynne McCormack, Arts, Culture, Tourism, City of Providence
Cliff Monteiro, NAACP Providence
Joe O’Connor, General Manager, WRNI
Charles Roberts, ED, First Night Newport
Edward Sanderson, ED RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission
Keith Stokes, Director, Newport Chamber of Commerce
Katrina White, EDC – RI Tourism

Museums/Libraries/Historical Societies
Linda Avant-Deishinni, Haffenreffer Museum
Christina Bevilacqua, Program/Membership Director, The Providence Athenaeum
Kathy Ellen Bullard, Providence Public Library
Jim Connell, Linden Place
Betty Fitzgerald, RI Collection Librarian, Providence Public Library
Morgan Grefe, Director of Education/Public Programs RI Historical Society
Geralyn Hoffman, Haffenreffer Museum
Kathleen McAreavey, Providence Preservation Society RI
Lisa Miller, Program Director, Providence Public Library
Francine Murphy-Brillon, Slater Mill
Charles Newton, Chair, RIBHS
Carol Palmer, Board, Smith’s Castle
Rick Ring, Special Collections, Providence Public Library
Mary Spotts, Redwood Library
Gwenn Stearn, RI State Archives
Ruth S. Taylor, ED, Newport Historical Society
Edward Widmer, Director, John Carter Brown Library, Brown U.

Religious Organizations
Carl Balark, Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Providence
Rev. Dr. David Mitchell, senior pastor, Congdon St. Baptist Church
Rev. Jeffrey Williams, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Life Christian Assembly

Colleges/Universities/Education Associates
Karen Allen Baxter, Rites & Reasons Theatre, Brown U.
Julian Bonder, Architecture, Roger Williams University
Aaron Bruce, Director, Unity Center, Rhode Island College
Jim Campbell, Brown U.
Tehani Collazo, Director of Education Outreach, Brown U.
Susan Graseck, Choices Program, Brown U.
Mollie Hackett, Professional Development, Choices Program, Brown U.
Barry Marshall, Moses Brown
Don Mays, Multicultural Center Roger Williams U.
Jillian McGuire, Outreach, Choices Program, Brown U.
Karen McLaurin-Chesson, Dean, Third World Center, Brown U.
Annie Valk, Associate Director, JNBC Brown U.
Melvin Wade, Multicultural Center URI

Nehassiau de Gannes, playwright, poet, actress
Tony Estrella, Artistic Director, Gamm Theatre
Barnaby Evans, Waterfire
Jon and Ghislaine Mahone, Just a Step Productions – In House Free Style
Bernadette and Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, Director, Mixed Magic Theatre
Michaelle Saintil, Assistant to Artistic Director, Providence Black Rep Co.
Micah Salkind, Director Public Programs, Providence Black Rep Co.
Megan Sandberg-Zakian, Associate Director, Providence Black Rep Co.
Yvonne Seggerman, E.D. Gamm Theatre
Valerie Tutson, ED RI Black Storytellers

Independent Scholars/Interested Individuals
Anne Edmonds Clanton, Covenant with Black America
Regina Clements, President, State of Blacks in RI
Reza Corinne Clifton, Freelance Journalist,
Linda Cline, African American heritage tours
Kathy Devlin, JNBC, Brown U.
Rodrick Echols, Theologian, BU
Stephanie Fortunato, JNBC, Brown U.
Rochelle Lee, Bates & Hall
Joanne Pope Melish, History/Slavery in RI, U. of Kentucky
Harold Metts, RI State Senator
Lyra Monteiro, JNBC, Brown U.
Leah Nahmias, JNBC, Brown U.
Ray Rickman, President, Rickman Group
Ahni Rocheleau, Founder, Spaces for Peace
Seth Rockman, History, Brown U.
Lamin Sarr, President, Sarr Consulting Group
Theresa Guzman Stokes, scholar, Newport
Walter Stone, Attorney, Adler, Pollack, & Sheehan
Joaquina Bela Teixeira, scholar
Jim Vincent, RI Housing
Peter Wells, Publisher, The Providence American

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Bibliography – African American Heritage in Rhode Island

June 3, 2008 at 4:17 pm (African Americans in RI, books, Research) (, , , )

Bibliography of books related to African American Heritage in Rhode Island

Armstead, Myra B. Young. “Lord, Please Don’t Take Me in August”: African Americans in Newport and Saratoga Springs, 1879-1930. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. 1999

Bartlett, Irving H. From Slave to Citizen: the Story of the Negro in Rhode Island. Providence, RI: Urban League of RI. 1954/1972

Battle, Charles A. Negroes on the Island of Rhode Island. 1932.

Bell, Jr., Andrew J. An Assessment of Life in Rhode Island as an African American in the Era from 1918 to 1993. New York: Vantage Press. 1997

Cottrol, Robert J. The Afro-Yankees: Providence’s Black Community in the Antebellum Era. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 1982

Coughtry, Jay. The Notorious Triangle: R.I. and the African Trade in Slaves. Temple University Press. 1981.

Fitts, Robert K. Inventing New England’s Slave Paradise: Master/Slave Relations in Eighteenth-Century Narragansett, Rhode Island. Ed. Graham Russel Hodges. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1998.

Greene, Lorenzo Johnston. The Negro in Colonial New England. New York: Athenaeum. 1974

Kaplan, Sydney and Emma Nogrady. The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution. Amherst: UMass Press. 1989

Kuns, Richard R., and John Sabino, eds. Underground Railroad in New England. American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, Region 1. 1976.

McBurney, Christian M.  A History of Kingston, RI, 1700-1900, Heart of Rural South County.  Kingston, R.I., Pettaquamscutt Historical Society.  2004 – This book has chapters on slavery; on the South Kingstown town council refusing to free a female slave even though her master wanted her freed; on the Kingston Anti-Slavery Society; on Sarah Harris Fayerweather, an abolitionist who socialized with William Lloyd Garrison; and on the Fayerweather family, who included middle class African American blacksmiths, and whose house still stands.  for more info check

McBurney, Christian M.  Jailed for Preaching: the Autobiography of Cato Pearce, a Freed Slave from Washington County, Rhode Island.  Kingston, RI: Pettaquamscutt Historical Society.  2006.  This is the only RI memoir of a RI slave (William Brown’s and Eleanor Elldridge’s parents were slaves, but not them).  The first part of the book summarizes slavery in souther RI and puts the memoir in context.  The author grew up in the Elisha Potter homestead where one of the main events in the book occurred.  more info –

Melish, Joanne Pope. Disowning Slavery: gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860. New York: Cornell University. 1998

Pierson, William D. Black Yankees: the Development of an Afro-American Subculture in Eighteenth-Century New England. (, Amherst, MA, UMASS Press. 1988

Rappleye, Charles. Sons of Providence: the Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2006.

Stewart, Rowena. Creative Survival: the Providence Black Community in the 19th Century. Providence, RI: Rhode Island Black Heritage Society. 1986

Stewart, Rowena. A Heritage Discovered – Blacks in Rhode Island. Providence, RI: Rhode Island Black Heritage Society. 1978

Weeden, William B. Early Rhode Island: A Social History of the People. New York: Grafton Press. 1910.

Youngken, Robert C. African Americans in Newport, 1700-1945. Newport, RI: Newport Historical Society. 1995

Please suggest any additions! Contact Risa –

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March 20, 2008 – First meeting of “stakeholders” for On the Road to Freedom: African American Heritage in RI

June 2, 2008 at 12:28 pm (Uncategorized)

Convening the first meeting – sharing stories –

On Thursday, March 20, 2008, the RI Council for the Humanities gathered a group of over 30 participants to meet for the first time at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities at Brown University to talk about the new program initiative, “On the Road to Freedom: African American Heritage in Rhode Island”. otrtf-one-page2

Participants included Chuck Arning, Mary-Kim Arnold, Linda Avant-Deishinni, Toby Ayers, Julian Bonder, Mark Brodeur, Jim Campbell, Ann Clanton, Anne Edmonds Clanton, Tehani Collazo, Stephanie Fortunato, Risa Gilpin, Susan Graseck, Morgan Grefe, Geralyn Hoffman, Patty Horton, SueEllen Kroll, Dennis Langley, Don Mays, Lyra Monteiro, Leah Nahmias, Charles Newton, Carol Palmer, Ray Rickman, Ahni Rocheleau, Seth Rockman, Micah Salkind, Gwenn Stearn, Valerie Tutson, Annie Valk, and Katrina White.

As 2008 marks the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the U.S., one of the first orders of business for this group will be to commemorate this bicentennial by planning a series of events and exhibitions for Fall 2008. “Freedom Festival” will take place during October 2008, National Arts and Humanities month.

Jim Campbell, Chair of the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice at Brown University (, welcomed participants and explained how Europe has embraced the commemoration of this 200th anniversary, whereas in America this date has gone virtually unacknowledged, except in Rhode Island, where the struggle to uncover and, in some way come to terms with, this state’s history is unique. He welcomed folks to talk about their particular interest in this effort and to strategize ways to continue the dialogue, work collaboratively and cooperatively to move forward and keep the issues at the forefront of concern for ALL Rhode Islanders.

In March 2006, The Providence Journal featured a comprehensive series of articles about RI and the Slave Trade written by Paul Davis.

Jim Campbell sits with Morgan Grefe, Director of Education and Public Programming, Rhode Island Historical Society. Morgan commented that there has “not been nearly enough work in this area of focus for decades…the story of slavery and the slave trade is a crucial story – it is THE story, it is OUR story.” Morgan would like to see more teacher trainings and content development for teachers AND developing a live connection to schools through the support of folks with expertise used as resources in the classroom. Susan Graseck, Senior Fellow in International Studies at the Choices Program at Brown has already developed some curriculum and professional development material.

Anne Edmonds Clanton, \

Anne Edmonds Clanton, “Covenant With Black America” and Linda Avant-Deishinni, Educational Specialist, Haffenreffer Museum were delighted to attend this meeting.

Linda has been working all her life to preserve African American history and culture in RI – she worked on the amazing “Creative Survival: the Providence Black Community in the 19th Century” exhibition when she was ED at the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society.

Linda is now bringing new African American focus to the Haffenreffer Museum. Anne Edmonds Clanton, founder of the Langston Hughes Center for the Arts (now defunct) received a major grant from the RI Council for the Humanities to bring the tenets of Tavis Smiley’s “Covenant With Black America” to the Rhode Island public in a series of 10 public forums (each representing a covenant), between April 2-November 30, 2008.

Gwenn Stearn, State Archivist, at the Rhode Island State Archives is particularly interested in sharing the wealth of historical records contained in this collection. As Chair of the RI Historic Records Advisory Board decoding how to feed into this program initiative is a critical step towards accessibility. She is also willing to launch several small exhibits on the topic during “Freedom Festival.” Don Mays, an independent director and filmmaker and the Assistant Director of the Intercultural Center at Roger Williams University, has been working on a project on Rhode Island’s first black regiment of the Revolutionary War, which celebrates its 230th anniversary this August.

Dennis Langley, E.D. of the Urban League of RI and Ray Rickman, President, The Rickman Group were also honored to be included on this initiative. Dennis indicated that he was “glad that we’re taking on an issue of importance to the black community and to our country.” Ray hopes we’re serious about this effort and he is particularly interested in continuing the effort to bring hidden stories to the forefront.

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