Newport Juneteenth Celebration – June 15, 2024

Newport Juneteenth Celebration takes place Saturday, June 15, 2024 on Washington Square

Rhode Island Slave History Medallions (RISHM) invites the public to attend a free, family-friendly celebration of our new national holiday, Juneteenth (Freedom Day) that will  be held Saturday, June 15th from 11 AM – 4 PM at Eisenhower Park on historic Washington Square. The program will feature speakers, historians, storytellers, live music and dance performances, youth activity booths, craft vendors, food trucks, plus an opportunity to take the first public “Newport Black History Walking Tours: Lost Stories of Resistance and Freedom” at 4 PM.

This second annual Juneteenth program pays tribute to RI’s role in the founding of our nation by honoring the historic 1st RI “Black” Regiment and the many cultures representing America’s rich diversity featuring gospel music; colonial music by Bristol Fife & Drum Corps; traditional Indigenous dance performance by the award-winning Narragansett folk artist Thawn Harris and family; drum performance by master African artist Sidy Maiga with a hands-on Drum Circle; and storytelling by Valerie Tutson of the RI Black Storytellers; plus regional historic regiment demonstrations, and more.

Special features this year will be a reading by RISHM director Charles Roberts of “The Varnum Letter,” a recently discovered artifact by African-American Thomas Nichols who was freed from enslavement to serve in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. Plus attendees are welcome to take a free, guided pilot tour of the brand new “Newport Black History Walking Tours: Lost Stories of Resistance and Freedom,” from 4:00-5:15 PM while visiting numerous medallion sites on Historic Hill, and learning about real-life colonial Black Americans. Tour sign-up is limited but available at RISHM’s Juneteenth table on site.

RISHM is a statewide nonprofit program working to educate Rhode Islanders about the state’s dominant role in the historic institution of slavery by sharing documented stories of enslaved people whose contributions were vital to Newport and to our nation.

The Newport Juneteenth Celebration and our inaugural season of the Black History Walking Tours have been the focus of our work, and we’re enormously pleased to share these new programs, shedding light on the culture and contributions of BIPOC persons in Newport’s history” said Charles Roberts.

For more information on Newport Juneteenth or the Walking Tours visit or contact Charles Roberts at

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