Sen. Ujifusa Resolution Honors Black Revolutionary War Soldiers of the 1st R.I. Regiment

By Meredyth R. Whitty, February 15, 2024

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Sen. Linda Ujifusa, right, with Revolutionary War re-enactors visiting the Senate today.

STATE HOUSE – The Senate today passed a resolution introduced by Sen. Linda Ujifusa to commemorate the contributions of the Black Revolutionary War soldiers of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment (also known as the Black Regiment).

“It is not widely known that Black soldiers served during the Revolutionary War and it is important to raise public awareness of their contributions,” said Senator Ujifusa (D-Dist.11, Portsmouth, Bristol).

The 1st Rhode Island Regiment was an integrated unit composed of Black, Indigenous and white soldiers, who served together from 1778 through the end of the war in 1783. 

According to Charles Roberts, executive director of the Rhode Island Slave History Medallions organization and a Revolutionary War re-enactor, “In August 1778, the regiment stood bravely on the right flank of the Continental Army at Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and drove back three Hessian charges and held the line against the British forces to distinguish itself with deeds of great valor.”

Roberts and fellow Revolutionary War re-enactors Jason Roomes, Robert Geake and Kirk Hindman were introduced to the Senate after the resolution was passed.

The resolution officially designated Feb. 15, 2024, “1st Rhode Island Regiment/Black Regiment Day” to commemorate the contribution of Black soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

 Senator Ujifusa said she was motivated to introduce the resolution because the Black Regiment fought the Battle of Rhode Island in Portsmouth.  In addition, many of her constituents have been leading efforts to educate the public about enslaved people in Rhode Island and their contribution to the establishment of America during the colonial period. Specifically, they are involved with the Newport County NAACP, the Newport Middle Passage Port Marker Project, the Bristol Middle Passage Port Marker Project, the Rhode Island Slave History Medallions Project, the Battle of Rhode Island Association and the Portsmouth Historical Society.

Victoria Johnson, former principal of Rogers High School and co-founder of the Newport Middle Passage Port Marker Project, notes that “it is particularly important during Black History Month to educate the public about the contributions Black soldiers made to the founding of our nation.”

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