Category Archives: Black History Month

Come join us for RISHM’s upcoming Black History Month event February 25, 2024

February 25, 2024 St. John's Episcopal Church

Black History Month Dedication February 25, 2024 St. John’s Episcopal Church

The Rhode Island Slave History Medallions (RISHM) is inviting the public to
celebrate Black History Month at a program honoring Black abolitionist and
church founder Peter Quire on Sunday, February 25 at 3PM at the historic
St. John the Evangelist Church, 61 Washington Street in Newport. The
event is free, open to the public, and a reception follows.

With speakers and gospel music, the event will feature US Congressman
Gabe Amo of RI speaking about Black History Month. RISHM Founder and Executive Director will speak about the history of Peter Quire, who worked with the Pennsylvania Quakers on the Underground Railroad freeing enslaved people, and his wife Harriet,
both lifelong advocates for equality who were leaders of the Black
community in Newport. The St. John’s Choir will perform with special guests
Mixed Majic Exult Choir.

RISHM will be installing a medallion at the church’s entrance and it will be
among the 14 markers installed across the state that tell the inclusive
stories of African and Indigenous Americans during the Colonial Era. In
Newport, medallions are marking the landscape at Bowen’s Wharf, Trinity
Church, and the W.E. Channing/Quamino House on School Street. Other
medallions being installed this year are at the Vernon House, Clarke St.,
and the Trinity School-Shiloh Baptist Church, School Street. Medallions
provide a QR code for scanning with a mobile phone, linking visitors to the
slave history archive at . For more information, contact
RISHM director Charles Roberts at

Click here to discover more about St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church and Peter Quire

Peter Quire and the Church of St John the Evangelist

Peter and Harriet Frances Quire, a free Black man and woman, held the first services of St.
John’s Parish above their cobbler shop. Before moving to Newport, Peter Quire worked with
the Quakers to free enslaved people in the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania. Upon his
death in 1899, he bequeathed $419, his life savings, to founding the church.


Celebrate Black History Month 2022!

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

Link to full William Ellery Channing / Dutchess Quamino Story


WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING (c.1817 – December 1901)
William Ellery Channing’s was impassioned public speaker who
became known as the “Father of Unitarianism”. Channing served
as the minister of the prestigious Federal Street Church in Boston
from 1803 to 1842. His religious thoughts and writings were
among the chief influences on the New England
Transcendentalists, authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry
David Thoreau.

He was an abolitionist. He may have been influenced by Duchess
Quamino who was his nanny in his early life. They fostered a lifelong friendship thereafter.

DUCHESS “CHARITY” QUAMINO (c. 1739 – June 1804)
Duchess “Charity” Quamino was a formerly enslaved woman who
worked as a nanny and cook in the household of William Ellery.
Duchess was also a talented baker, a wife and mother, and a rare
entrepreneur in the Era of Slavery, becoming well known as the
“Pastry Queen of Rhode Island.”

Duchess Quamino was born to a family on the Gold Coast of
Africa, in Senegal or Ghana, and was taken captive, sold into
slavery, and transported on the slave ship Elizabeth to Newport
where she became the property of attorney William Ellery and
his wife. Quamino grew into an entrusted nanny and excelled in
baking, a skill that would sustain her in later years.