Author Archives: Charles Roberts

Newport Juneteenth 2023, June 18th and 19th

Washington Square Park and The Friends Meeting House

Schedule of Events coming soon: Sunday, June 18th and Monday, June 19th

A free Juneteenth Holiday Special — Sunday, June 18th & Monday, June 19th from 11am-4 pm each day with family activities in Washington Square Park. Celebrating our nation’s freedom and honoring the enslaved heroes of RI’s 1st Black Regiment, guest speakers and African and Indigenous dancers and drummers, children’s crafts, the Newport Artillery, and Food Court Vendors.

At the Friends Meeting House, spectators will experience a colonial encampment of Continental Soldiers, Militia Regiments, the Ladies of the Greene and more.

Register here to be a RISHM  Juneteenth 2023 Volunteer

Or reach out to Jackie Smith at for more information.

Listen to WADK Radio Interview

Charles Roberts, Founder and Executive Director, RI Slave History Medallions talks about the upcoming Juneteenth 2023 event.

Black History Month: RISHM presents “Bonnie Blue: James Cotton’s Life in the Blues”

“Bonnie Blue: James Cotton’s Life in the Blues”

For Black History Month, the RI Slave History Medallions presents the award-winning documentary film “Bonnie Blue: James Cotton’s Life in the Blues” on Sunday, February 26, 7PM at the Casino Theatre, 10 Freebody St., Newport.

Cotton, a virtuoso harmonica player, who brought the blues to worldwide prominence has been screened internationally and co-produced by James Montgomery. A live performance follows the film by the James Montgomery Blues Band with special guests Beehive Queen, Christine Ohlman and singer Kara McKee from The Voice.

Doors open 6pm with free appetizers and cash bar. Tickets are $40 available online at, or at the door.

RISHM Installation Ceremony at Trinity Church

Trinity Church and Slavery during the Colonial Period

Trinity Church was founded in 1698 as a mission of the Church of England. Early parishioners included slave owners and traffickers, such as George Gibbs II, who is interred in the Trinity Church graveyard.

Cuffe Gibbs, the slave of George Gibbs II, is buried in God’s Little Acre on Farewell Street in Newport. His brother, the enslaved artisan, Pompe Stevens, carved the original ‘Soul Effigy’ angel image, placed at this site location, for the gravestone of his deceased brother Cuffe, in 1768.It was the first signed African American decorative artwork to be made in North America.

Trinity Church, Sunday October 30, 2022, Queen Anne Square, Newport, RI

Barrington and the Early Roots of Slavery

Slavery in Barrington, Rhode Island
In 1653 settler-colonists laid claim to “Sowams,” the ancestral home of the Pokanoket. Though the Pokanoket never relinquished their claim, settler-colonists soon occupied the land, including modern-day Barrington. Among these settler-colonists were the Willet, Myles, and Browne families, who enslaved 14 Africans. By 1774, 57 of the town’s 601 inhabitants were enslaved, including 18 classified as Indigenous.

Rhode Island Slave History Medallion Installation Ceremony
October 2, 2022. Barrington Public Library & Town Hall
281 County Road, Barrington, Rhode Island

Juneteenth at Casey Farm, Sunday June 19, 2022

Historic New England’s Casey Farm
Historic New England’s Casey Farm is located on the ancestral homeland of the Narragansett people. By 1755, soon after this house was built, 19% of people in South County were enslaved. Casey Farm was one of many Rhode Island plantations that used forced labor by people of Indigenous and African descent to care for crops, animals, and domestic duties. Enslaved people allowed the farm to prosper, so centuries later, Historic New England could steward the land. The non-profit cultivates and conserves 300 acres of land with its circa 1750 farmhouse, nineteenth century barns and outbuildings, and miles of stone walls. The RISHM marker is located on the front lawn of the farmhouse.

Celebrate Black History Month!

Benevolence and Success in the Era of Slavery: Duchess Quamino and William Ellery Channing

RISHM Black History Month Program, Live and Virtual

The public is invited to attend an illustrated lecture celebrating Black History Month on Saturday, February 26 at 2:00 pm, entitled “Benevolence and Success in the Era of Slavery: Duchess Quamino and William Ellery Channing”. The program is presented by RI Slave History Medallions (RISHM) live at the Channing Memorial Church, 135 Pelham Street, Newport, and simulcast live online at YouTube: Channing Memorial Church Simulcast

The featured speaker will be Akeia de Barros Gomes, Ph.D., anthropologist and senior curator of Maritime Social Histories at the Mystic Seaport Museum and Visiting Scholar at the Center for Slavery and Justice at Brown University. She will talk about the lives and relationship of two historic figures from Newport’s Colonial era, the formerly enslaved nanny and baker Duchess Quamino and abolitionist William Ellery Channing, the well known orator, transcendentalist and longtime minister of the Unitarian Church.

The program also commemorates the installation of a RI Slave History medallion marker at the historic William Ellery Channing home at 24 School Street on Historic Hill in Newport. The QR code on the marker may be scanned with a phone or digital device that links a viewer to a documented narrative about the site at the publicly accessible slave history archive,

Duchess Quamino’s baked goods gained renown and it was said George Washington requested her plum cakes when he was in Newport. She was eventually able to raise enough money to buy her and her family’s freedom from Reverend William Ellery Channing whose views of abolitionism she influenced. Channing’s philosophy and progressive writing helped usher in the period of Enlightenment with American authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was in Channing’s honor that the Channing Memorial Church and a Touro Park statue in Newport were erected in the 1880’s.

Event registration is free at In person attendance will be limited to those who have pre-registered online. Attendees must wear masks and COVID safe seating will be provided as per RI Health Department protocols. For more information, please contact RISHM director Charles Roberts at

Black History Month

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month,  The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African America

in 1926, Negro History week chosen on the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Doughlass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures

President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history

The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Black History Month

The Living History Cultural Arts Celebration Performance

On August 28th 2021, RISHM provided the community with a family-friendly gathering of BIPOC traditions and colonial history at Patriots Park in Portsmouth, sponsored in part by RISCA, BankNewport, the NAACP and the Newport Port Marker project.

Parents and their children shared in an unforgettable experience, an Act of Remembrance. They witnessed their history come to life before their very eyes. We are Building a New Tomorrow. One Child, One Family at a Time.

Juneteenth, Linden Place, Bristol, Saturday June 19, 2021


At Linden Place, We Acknowledging the Land of the Enslavers George and James DeWolf, Blessed by the Algonquin, Pokanoket Wampanoag tribes with historic documentation from Roger Williams University. As Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, “This may be Bristol County but it’s Wampanoag Country”. Truly a A Spiritual Healing took place along our new Nationally Designated Historic Scenic Byway in Bristol.

Juneteenth Weekend, DeWolf Tavern, Bristol, Monday June 21, 2021


On June 21, at the DeWolf Tavern, DeWolf family descendants, Dain and Constance Perry screened the documentary “Traces of Trade, a film tracing their journey back to African with nine of the DeWolf family members willing to tell the story of their forefathers, the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. The Perry’s led an audience on a soul searching journey to discover that moment within themselves that strives to find our common humanity. That moment is the Path to Racial Healing.

Installation Ceremony at Smith’s Castle, North Kingstown, RI

Saturday, October 10, 2020 – 10am to 11am
55 Richard Smith Drive, North Kingstown, RI

This dedication featured remarks by RISHM director Charles Roberts, Smith’s Castle Vice-president and Education Committee chairperson Robert A. Geake and members of their education committee. A blessing of the land in the original Narragansett language was given by Loren Spears of the Tomaquag Museum. The Mixed Magic Exult Gospel Choir will perform spiritual tributes. Members of the Rhode Island First Black Regiment will honor the enslaved Patriots with a musket salute. This program was made possible by the Rhode Island Slave History Medallions organization and the Friends of Smith’s Castle and Preserve RI. For more information: Smith’s Castle, North Kingstown