The Rhode Island Historical Society has a page devoted to this topic that includes two online exhibits, Rhode Island African Heritage Civil Rights History and The Power of Place in Civil Rights, a report on sites in Rhode Island pertaining to civil rights history, and a number of grade-level appropriate unit plans.

Rhode Tour is a free mobile application and website that features several historically and humanities-themed tours and stories from around the state using multi-media such as photographs and videos.  Rhode Tour has a program called Rhode Island’s Black Heritage, which focuses on Black culture, important Black people, and the fight for civil rights in Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society has a timeline of civil rights actions in Rhode Island from the mid-1600s to the present.  The Society also has an informative video on Juneteenth.  They have a number of available resources to learn more about the legacy of Black Americans in Rhode Island.  They also sponsor exhibits and living history presentations.

The Rhode Island Department of Education has a list of curricula for a variety of topics on Black heritage and civil rights actions in Rhode Island complied by the 1696 Historical Commission from history and heritage organizations throughout Rhode Island.

Stages of Freedom has a page devoted to the Lippitt Hill Redevelopment project.

The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University has a program called Sankofa:  African Americans in Rhode Island that examines the culture of the West Africans who were brought to Rhode Island through the slave trade and the process of ending slavery in Rhode Island.

See WGBH for the story of the reverse freedom riders

Creative Survival Rhode Island has a few online exhibits that focus on topics such as the Black soldiers in World War I and the consequences of slavery that are still present today.

To read more about a heroic teenager from Ashaway who helped with the Underground Railroad, check out this link.

To learn about how some enslaved African American found a unique way of gaining their freedom in Rhode Island, read this article.

Some enslaved African American were buried in the same cemetery as white Newport families during colonial times.  Read more about the regulations that allowed both enslaved and free African Americans to be buried in the same public burial grounds as white people here.


Relevant Articles from the Rhode Island History Journal

Daoust, Norma Lasalle.  “Building the Democratic Party:  Black Voting in Providence in the 1930s.”  Rhode Island History Journal 44 no. 3 (August 1985):  81-88.

Hess, Jeffrey A.  “Black Settlement House, East Greenwich, 1092-1914.”  Rhode Island History Journal 29 no. 3 & 4 (August and November 1970):  114-127.

Lemons, Stanley and Michael A. McKenna.  “Re-enfranchisement of Rhode Island Negros.”  Rhode Island History Journal 30 no. 1 (February 1971):  3-14.

Myers, John L.  “Antislavery Agents in Rhode Island, 1835-1837.”  Rhode Island History Journal 30 no. 1 (February 1971):  21-32.


Suggested Fieldtrips and Locations of Note

The Mary Elizabeth Robert Research Center has a number of resources available that cover Black heritage and civil rights in Rhode Island.

The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University studies social justice and racial equality while also studying the ways in which the legacy of slavery continues to shape our modern world. They also host walking tours for school groups.

The Center for Reconciliation has changing exhibits and walking tours