The Rhode Island Historical Society, in partnership with the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, was awarded a grant from the National Park Service* for a multi-phase project on African Americans’ Struggle for Civil Rights in Rhode Island: The 20th Century.  The project consisted of conducting archival research, collecting oral histories, and documenting places of significance to civil rights in Rhode Island over the course of three years, 2017-2020.  Public exhibits and school unit plans were also created thanks to this grant.

The following lessons reference many types of primary sources from local Rhode Island collections and are meant to serve as a supplement to the Civil Rights history already being taught in classrooms with a focus on local events and people. Many lessons reference time periods earlier than the 1960s, while also drawing connections from those events up to today.  We suggest teachers also scope out the unit plans that don’t fall under their grade level of teaching as they may find use for the included primary resources.

In addition, we have included below a report from the Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. done for this project as it contains tremendous scholarly background information for teachers to provide context for Rhode Island and national civil rights people, places, and events. The context statement begins on page 3 of the report.  We have also included electronic versions of the two panel exhibits completed during this project.

Please also visit the Rhode Island Civil Rights Timeline on the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society’s website.

Unit Plans