Category Archives: RISHM

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.

The Learning Center is in need of folks to help set up in advance of programs! Please contact Susan Kieronski at or call (401) 662-2906 to volunteer – thanks!

Walking Tour of African American History in Downtown Wickford

Old Narragansett Church in Wickford, founded in 1706

with Tim Cranston
Saturday, November 3rd, 2018
Meeting at 11 am Gardner’s Wharf

Explore the stories of Wickford’s vibrant community of slaves, servants, mariners, farmers and fisherman living in the early seventeen and eighteen hundreds along side its early Native American population. Who were they? How did they live their lives? What became of them? We will examine these issues and more. Our journey begins at 11 AM, after participants gather at the Town Dock parking lot at the far end of Main Street. We will walk up Pleasant Street past the home of Captain Lodowick Updike, owner of the first Narragansett Plantation stretching from Wickford south to Point Judith and west to Connecticut. The tour will end with a lively discussion at the Old Narragansett Church nestled in the heart of this historic community. For all those who wish to attend, the discussion will continue at lunch at Wickford on the Water on Main Street