Public Meeting: Documenting African American Struggle for Civil Rights in RI

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RI Black Heritage Society, RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, and RI Historical Society invite public input

PROVIDENCE, R.I. ??? On July 11 from 5:30 to 7:30pm at the Congdon Street Baptist Church at 17 Congdon St. in Providence, the Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS), the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society (RIBHS), and Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) will hold a public meeting to share the latest research from their collaborative project on African Americans’ struggle for Civil Rights in Rhode Island during the 20th century.

The 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.??? Rhode Island???s proposal was one of 39 projects in 20 states to be funded by the competitive grant program in 2017.

The public meeting marks the winding down of Phase 1 of the multi-part project. In the first phase, 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. Keith Stokes, project consultant for Phase 1, will share some of his discoveries about historical trends relating to Civil Rights at Rhode Island???s workplaces, educational institutions, housing, public spaces, and halls of government.

Following a competitive search for consultants, Pawtucket-based cultural resource management firm PAL (The Public Archaeology Laboratory) was chosen to carry out Phase 2 of the project. Under the direction of RIHPHC staff, PAL???s historians will survey sites identified during research and documentation, prepare survey sheets, and draft a narrative report that includes a context statement, analysis of the group of sites, and recommendations for National Register listing. During the July 11 public meeting at Congdon Street Baptist Church, PAL???s representatives will discuss their approach to the project.

The final part of the project will be carried out jointly by RIHS and RIBHS staff. Building on the work done in Phases 1 and 2, they will assemble educational materials for both educational audiences and the general public. RIBHS and RIHS plan to develop two exhibits and host opening lectures for each.

The three partners will take questions and comments from the audience about the project during the July 11 public meeting. All are welcome to participate. Project updates will be posted at RIHS.org.

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 Commission 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.

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