Category Archives: RISHM

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, www.rishm.org.

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 Eventbrite.com. 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 info@rishm.org.

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

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

Bowen’s Wharf Medallion Installation Ceremony


On July 23rd 2020, a RI Slave History Medallion was placed at the original historic buildings on Bowen’s Wharf formerly known as the Stevens Ship Chandlery (now the Sail Loft) which is registered with the Library of Congress’s Historic American Buildings.

Speakers RI Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee, RI Director of Tourism Mark Brodeur, Discover Newport Executive Director Evan Smith, Bart Dunbar from Bowen’s Wharf, RISHM Executive Director Charles Roberts, and members of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

RI Historic Map and RISHM

Take a tour of Rhode Island’s historic locations through the Rhode Island Slave History Medallion project.

KML-LogoFullscreen-LogoGeoJSON-LogoGeoRSS-Logo
RI Slave History Medallions

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Providence: 41.823070, -71.403311
Warren: 41.730400, -71.282500
Bristol: 41.677400, -71.271700
Newport: 41.487000, -71.316300
North Kingstown: 41.572929, -71.447005
Npt-Bowens-Wharf: 41.487226, -71.316971
Portsmouth: 41.601500, -71.258100
Jamestown RI: 41.495900, -71.374000

Rhode Island Cities in RISHM Statewide Public Awareness Program

Contributions to the History of Slavery in Rhode Island

Take a tour of Rhode Island’s historic locations through the Rhode Island Slave History Medallion project.

This is the original gravestone carved in Newport by Pompe Stevens, the enslaved artisan who crafted one of the first signed African-American pieces of artwork in North America in 1768 for his deceased brother Cuffe Gibbs.

The Rhode Island Slave History Medallion organization is a statewide public awareness program committed to marking those historic sites connected to the history of slavery in Rhode Island.

Slavery was the global economic engine prior to its abolition and Rhode Island’s role in this business of slavery was significant. By marking sites throughout the state that are connected to that past, we hope to make that history easily accessible by telling a more complete story of the cultural and economic development of the State of Rhode Island.

In each city or town, a QR coded Medallion with the history of its designated locations will appear on the website. The QR code on the Medallion will provide a link to this website with historical content about each location.

We welcome participation in the Rhode Island Slave History Medallion project. Please help us accomplish this landmark achievement in education.

Slave history medallions unveiled at Newport event

RISHM Medallion with QR Code

The Rhode Island Slave History Medallion was displayed at the lecture held by the Newport Historical Society at the Colony House on Wednesday. The first medallion installation is scheduled for August 25 at Patriots Park in Portsmouth. [PETER SILVIA PHOTO]

The Bristol County Fifes and Drums performed in front of the Colony House as part of the Rhode Island Slave History Medallions Project on Wednesday.

Joanne Pope Melish, associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky, presented a lecture at the Colony House on Remembering Slavery as part of the Rhode Island Slave History Medallions Project. [PETER SILVIA PHOTO]

ASSOCIATED PRESS June 2019: Ruth Taylor, executive director of the Newport Historical Society and sponsor for the program’s lecture on June 19th said of RISHM:
“The objective is to identify and mark sites throughout the state that have a historical  connection to the enslavement of Native Americans and Africans, either by their involvement in the slave trade and the economy of slavery, or by their association with the lives and labor of enslaved people themselves.

Slavery In Colonial Newport – Fred Zilian, Ph.D.

Wed. March 20, 6:30 PM, Parish Hall, Channing Church, Newport

In this talk, the first outreach presentation for Rhode Island Slave History Medallions, Dr. Zilian, a board member, will describe the beginnings and growth of slavery in the colony of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island’s key role in the Atlantic trading system. He’ll examine the business, demographics and personal lives of people involved in slavery in colonial Newport, and will demonstrate the relevance of Newport’s slave history to present day concerns.

Dr. Zilian holds a PhD in international relations/strategic studies from Johns Hopkins University. He is an Adjunct Professor at Salve Regina University, where he teaches history and politics. His articles and reviews have been published widely, from the Wall Street Journal to the Newport Daily News. He has performed as an Abe Lincoln interpreter for 20 years.

CO SPONSORED BY THE SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE AND THE LEARNING CENTER
The Learning Center is in need of folks to help set up in advance of programs! Please contact Susan Kieronski at skierons@msn.com or call (401) 662-2906 to volunteer – thanks!