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

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

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.

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