R.I. African Heritage Civil Rights History Exhibit to Open in September 


RIBHS, RIHPHC, and RIHS Invite Public to Attend NPS-Supported Project; Includes Teacher Workshop

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS), theRhode Island Black Heritage Society (RIBHS), and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) invite members of the public to an exhibit opening and panel discussion on Thursday, September 12, 2019, 6pm, at Aldrich House (110 Benevolent St., Providence).

The exhibit, The Power of Place in Civil Rights, features the stories of significant places in Rhode Island pertaining to civil rights activities, people, and organizations. The speaking program will feature Nicole Tingle, Secretary of the Providence Branch of the NAACP. Architectural historians Laura Kline and Gretchen Pineo of the Public Archaeology Lab will also discuss their research and work in documenting seventy-six sites in Rhode Island significant to 20th-century civil rights. The exhibit will be on view through the months of September and October at the John Brown House Museum. No admission will be charged for those wishing to only view this exhibit.

In addition, teachers and educators are invited to attend a professional development workshop featuring new educational materials and a private preview of the exhibit. The newly developed curriculum units are designed for the high school level, but teachers of all grades are welcome to attend. The teachers’ workshop will begin at 4 pm, and attendees are encouraged to stay for the 6 pm exhibit opening. Those interested in participating should contact Geralyn Ducady, Director of the RIHS Goff Center for Education & Public Programs, at to register.

Both the exhibit opening and teachers’ workshop are free.

This work is supported by a $49,557.76 grant from the National Park Service (NPS) through its African American Civil Rights Grant Program, which assists projects that “document, interpret, and preserve the sites and stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens in the 20th Century.” The grant was announced in January of 2017. 

Rhode Island’s project spans three major efforts. In Phase 1, RIBHS researchers conducted oral history interviews, studied primary and secondary sources, and produced a comprehensive study of the state’s 20th-century African American Civil Rights history. For Phase 2, Public Archaeology Lab (PAL), working primarily with the RIHPHC, surveyed historic sites, prepared survey sheets, and wrote a narrative report that includes a context statement, analysis of the group of sites, and recommendations for National Register eligibility. The exhibit, teachers’ workshop, and the release of new educational materials are part of the third and final phase of this multipart project. A first exhibit, teacher workshop, and the release of curriculum for the elementary and middle levels occurred last February.

About the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission

The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission is the state agency for historical preservation and heritage programs. The RIHPHC operates a statewide historical preservation program that identifies and protects historic buildings, districts, structures, and archaeological sites. The Commission also develops and carries out programs to document and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Rhode Island’s people.

About the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society

As one of the oldest African Heritage organizations in the country, the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society has recorded, retained, and interpreted historical facts and preserved the documents and artifacts of African American and African descendants’ history and accomplishments in Rhode Island. Its primary mission is the preservation of African Diaspora descendants’ historical artifacts – books, art, papers and images, as well as facilitating the interpretation efforts by those seeking to enlighten others about black heritage.


About the Rhode Island Historical Society

Founded in 1822, the RIHS, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the fourth-oldest historical society in the United States and is Rhode Island’s largest and oldest historical organization. In Providence, the RIHS owns and operates the John Brown House Museum, a designated National Historic Landmark, built in 1788; the Aldrich House, built in 1822 and used for administration and public programs; and the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center, where archival, book and image collections are housed. In Woonsocket, the RIHS manages the Museum of Work and Culture, a community museum examining the industrial history of northern Rhode Island and of the workers and settlers, especially French-Canadians, who made it one of the state’s most distinctive areas.