Having trouble finding resources on Rhode Island’s African American history for Black History Month? Look no further. Thanks to the efforts of the 1696 Historical Task Force, Rhode Island teachers now have a one-stop resource for finding content and teaching materials about Rhode Island’s rich African heritage history. The page, available on the Rhode Island Department of Education’s website under “Instruction & Assessment,” “Civics & Social Studies,” points to primary documents, bibliographies of resources, and ready-to-use lesson plans.
The 1696 Historical Commission, now Task Force, was created in 2014 through House Resolution 7490, Substitute A sponsored by Representative Joseph Almeida (D-Providence) and Senate Resolution 2418, Substitute A sponsored by Senator Harold Metts (D-Providence) and named for the year the first documented slave ship, the Seaflower, arrived in Newport. The commission included the Secretary of State or designee as chairperson, the Education Commissioner or designee, as vice-chairperson, the executive director of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, and 12 members of the public appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, President of the Senate, and the Governor. The commission was extended in 2015 through Senate Resolution 0079 sponsored by Senator Metts, and upon being made aware of the commission by Senate and House policy staff, newly elected Secretary of State Gorbea, in her role as chairwoman, called the commission together to begin its work. At the end of the Commission’s period, members continued to meet as a Task Force under the coordination of the Rhode Island Historical Society. With help from RIDE, this web page of resources is a product of the Task Force.
The Rhode Island Historical Society is coordinating the 1696 Historical Task Force and the listings on the web page. If you have questions about the material or would like to submit a resource to be added to the list, please contact Samantha Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to check back to the page as new materials will continually be added.