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.

RI Slave History Medallions

loading map - please wait...

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
Portsmouth: 41.601500, -71.258100
Jamestown RI: 41.495900, -71.374000
Barrington: 41.740207, -71.308136
East Greenwich: 41.659845, -71.457138

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 The QR code on the Medallion will provide a link to this website with historical content about each location.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.

Remembering Slavery: June 19, 2019

JUNETEENTH 2019, The Newport Historical Society in collaboration with the Rhode Island Slave History Medallions Project  will present an evening of activities June 19, 2019 beginning at 5 pm at The Colony House, Washington Square, Newport, R.I. free event.

  • 5 pm – Fifes and Drums
  • 5:30 pm – Joanne Pope Melish on Remembering Slavery with R.I.S.H.M
  • Charles Roberts – Pompe Stevens Medallion

The Bristol County Fifes and Drums will perform at 5:00 pm, in front of the Colony House as part of the “International Day of Drumming and Healing” organized by the 400 Years of African American History Commission established by Congress in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the British colonies.

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!