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Black History Matters: Compelling Lecture Series Explores the Unfinished Business of Social Justice in Providence

Published Date: 
September 11, 2020

Power, Privilege & Social Justice: History of African American Civil Rights in Providence RI is a three-part series from the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, in partnership with Providence Community Library, which explores the history and struggle for African Americans to achieve Civil Rights in Providence over a 300-year period. Keith Stokes, Advisor to the RI Black Heritage Society, will present the talks.

The series begins with the arrival of enslaved Africans and continues through history to the unfinished business of today. The presentations will examine how contemporary social justice activities are an outgrowth of civil rights work done in the past and will also include rarely seen historic images. The FREE talks take place on successive Wednesdays, September 23, 30 and October 7 and will be prefaced by a short story, told by Valerie Tutson, of RI Black Storytellers. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Wednesday, September 23 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

PART 1: EARLY AFRICAN ARRIVALS & RESISTANCE recounts the early arrivals of enslaved Africans to Providence and Rhode Island, their fight for emancipation and the development of Providence's first African heritage religious, civic and education institutions.

Wednesday, September 30 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

PART 2: SEPARATE & UNEQUAL focuses on the social and political conditions faced by the African heritage community in Providence during the 19th century. Key topics will include establishing the early free African heritage neighborhood within College Hill, surviving Hardscrabble and Snowtown race riots, securing the right to vote, integrating public schools and passage of early civil rights laws.

Wednesday, October 7 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

PART 3: THE ONGOING STRUGGLE explores the 20th century and the fight for fair employment during the World War Years and fight for fair housing during the 1950s through 1960s. There will also be a discussion of the unfinished business of social justice within the present-day Black Lives Matter movement, Mayor of Providence's “Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations” initiative and other social justice issues facing us today.

Reflecting on current events, Presenter Keith Stokes comments, "as we emerge from an intense summer of Black Lives Matter movement and social justice protests in Rhode Island and across the country, it is important to look back in history to those voices that would bear witness to struggles that still consume us today.”

Power, Privilege & Social Justice is presented by the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and Providence Community Library, in partnership with Rhode Island Black Storytellers.

To attend these virtual events, request tickets through the Eventbrite links and you will be sent instructions on how to join. For more about programs and services at Providence Community Library, visit the website.