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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Rhode Island ruled the slave trade. For more than 75 years, merchants and investors bankrolled 1,000 voyages to Africa. Their ships carried some 100,000 men, women, and children into New World slavery.Click here to read the powerful 15 part series.
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.
In Memory of Mayor Paul Gaines – First Black Mayor of Newport, RI & First Black Mayor in New England. Mayor Paul L. Gaines (April 20,1932 – June 25, 2020), Chairman of the Patriots Park Renovation Committee
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.
On November 18th 2019, US Congressman David Cicilline, cut the ribbon and spoke about the importance of the RISHM awareness and education program. RI Rep. Marvin Abney, RISHM Chair Charles Roberts, former Mayor Paul Gaines, RI Sen. Jim Seveney and RI Rep.Teri Cortvriend attended the presentation.