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. http://www.projo.com/extra/2006/slavery/day4/

August 3, 1805 Daniel Rodman born in Wakefield.
August 8, 1864 The RI Association of freedmen formed. http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss664.htm

August 12, 1776 Caesar Lyndon’s picnic in Portsmouth. http://www.projo.com/extra/2006/slavery/text/day3.htm
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. http://thephoenix.com/Providence/News/13888-Memorializing-the-1824-Hardscrabble-race-riot-take/?rel=inf
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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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 www.freewebs.com/kingstonrihistory.

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 – www.freewebs.com/jailedforpreaching

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 – risa@rihumanities.org

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Research begins – Program Directors, Risa Gilpin and SueEllen Kroll visit NYC Jan. 6-8,2008

April 2, 2008 at 11:42 am (Research)


Row Houses built in 1882

SueEllen at Sylvan Terrace – 160th St
Row Houses built 1882

Upon arriving in NYC on Sunday, Jan. 6, Risa and Sue headed straight up to the Sugar Hill section of Harlem – to Sylvan Terrace and Jumel Terrace. We were on a pilgrimage of sorts to this little neighborhood bookshop Jumel Terrace Books (426 W. 160th St “Where the Founding Fathers meet the Founding Brothers”) specializing in the Black Atlantic, Harlem Renaissance, and civil rights literature. Owner Kurt Thometz long-time collector of Africana and African American books and author of Life Turns Man Up and Down, welcomed us to his shop and offered some concrete recommendations for our initiative. Along with his friend and neighbor, George Preston (Beat Poet who opened Artist’s Studio on E. 3rd; taught African art at City College for 32 years; opened the Museum of Art & Origins in his home; author of Sets, Series, Ensembles in African Art), and jazz musician Marjorie Elliot’s (555 Edgecombe Ave. who holds Sunday afternoon jam sessions) are locally known as “the new Sugar Hill gang.”

Kurt Thometz

More about Jumel Terrace Books…

New York Historical Society Gives Us the Dish

The next stop on our party train was the New York Historical Society to meet with Adrienne Kupper, vice president of education, and Elizabeth Grant, associate director of education, to hear more about their experiences working on the major exhibitions Slavery in New York, Legacies- Contemporary Artists Reflect on Slavery 2006, and New York Divided.

The curriculum produced by NYHS is not only impressive but inspirational as a benchmark of excellence. Kupper and Grant offered several pieces of advice for us: 1) consider working with a clinical psychologist to provide a forum to talk about fears, identity politics, adverse reactions, steering conversations, etc; 2) anticipate what some of the toughest questions or reactions will be and plan for strong, consistent responses; 3) plan for the long-term if we want to have an impact; 4) providing teacher trainings and curricula is a sure way to have (measurable) impact; 5) can we create a permanent exhibit?; 6) video booth set up to capture visitors reactions to exhibit was extremely compelling tool; 7) they will share their current evaluation efforts of their curricula in NY public schools with us.
This work could potentially provide a model for our grantees seeking to provide curricular materials for teachers; engage students in after-school projects, etc.
We have a copy of the binder they created for teachers and are willing to share with anyone interested (included are maps, posters, a cd-rom, and innovative techniques for creating portraits of local African American people, using primary source material).

Visit New York Historical Website…

Connecting with Scholar/Historian James Basker

Next on our trip was a stop with James Basker, professor of history at Barnard College, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute , author of Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems About Slavery, 1660-1810, editor of Early American Abolitionists: A Collection of Anti-Slavery Writings 1760-1820.

Much of Jim’s work for Gilder-Lehrman has been focused on education- annual teacher seminars; traveling exhibits; and classroom resources such as calendars, posters – all of which he has offered to make available for RICH should we make reach into the schools a priority. In addition, Jim had several great suggestions for keynotes/panelists for our OTRTF conference.

The Institute launched the African American National Biography project of Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham,
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~aanb/

Read Basker Article on Poets Against Slavery in the 1600’s and 1700’s www.time.com/time/sampler/article/0,8599,423930,00.html

Up Next: Angela Keiser at Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, Yale University! http://www.yale.edu/glc/

Good thing that Sue and Risa didn’t sleep in because the next stop on our whirlwind tour proved to be the most fruitful. In her capacity as Special Projects Coordinator, Angela Keiser spearheads planning and growth for the GLC’s major education outreach program – the UNESCO Transatlantic Slave Trade Education Project. As the TST Project New England Regional Coordinator, Angela works directly with education policy makers, university leaders, school system administrators, middle and upper grade teachers to elevate the quality of instruction in the origins, evolution and legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and to promote intercultural student dialogue around this topic.
Angela offered several resources and key pieces of advice in terms of planning our initiative: 1) Timing for this project is excellent in terms of receptivity. 2) Build a strong alliance with State Department of Education. 3) Need for Digital Humanities Resource Center for connecting resources/scholarship. 4) Involve non-academic institutions e.g., Projo to help spread the word (see Hartford Courant’s Coverage). 5) Move beyond the “blaming” issue. It’s crucial to have a plan to move conversations to healing and resolution. 6) Work with Katrina Browne as she is providing a white audience with a vocabulary for talking about these tough issues. 7) Understand that there is a psychological aspect to addressing this issue (not just a humanities one).

Also check out these websites:
Citizens All: African Americans in Connecticut, 1700-1850 website link here http://cmi2.yale.edu/citizens_all/
Beyond Complicity: Connecticut’s Hidden History http://www.courant.com/news/local/northeast/hc-bunceintro.artapr03,0,407447.htmlstory?coll=hc-headlines-custom-specials

Last Stop: The Road to Civil War

We concluded our trip with a lunch meeting at Yale’s Lawn Club with film producer H. Gilles Carter to discuss his upcoming PBS project – a 3 part series examining the period leading up to the Civil War.
Gilles is interested in applying for a grant, and among the RI connections to his research, is the story of the abolitionists known as the Grimke Sisters who were active at the Beneficent Congregational Church.
Gilles is working with Richard Wormser on this production who directed the PBS series The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. They intend to model their current project off of this one.

Visit Rise and Fall of Jim Crow Resource Website…http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/

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