Upcoming Events
Slavery, Emancipation and Race in New England:
CFR Offers Six-Week Course
Thursdays, Noon - 1 p.m.
September 13 - October 18
Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island
Diocesan House
275 North Main St., Providence
The Center for Reconciliation (CFR) is pleased to announce a six-week course taught by CFR board member, Professor Joanne Pope Melish. This course will examine New England’s complex relationship with slavery and its racial legacies, a crucial part of the region’s, and America’s, story. The rise of maritime commercial New England, and Rhode Island in particular, was fueled by the American trade in enslaved Africans and the use of enslaved indigenous and African laborers in New England to produce cheese, grain, livestock, and other commodities for export to the slave societies of the West Indies. The second, industrial phase of New England’s growth and development was rooted in the success of its textile industry, almost entirely dependent on slave-grown cotton and Southern markets for cotton and woolen textiles to clothe slaves. At the same time, slavery as a moral and political issue inflamed New England politics in both the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The course will explore these historical developments and their racialized legacies, including the 20th-century effects of urban renewal, gentrification, preservation, and the war on drugs.

The cost of the course is $65. Limited scholarships are available. To register, CLICK HERE . To inquire about scholarships, send an email to info@cfrri.org .

Joanne Pope Melish received her bachelor's and master's degrees and a doctorate in American Civilization from Brown University. She is a retired associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky, where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses on African American history, American slavery, and the evolution of racial ideologies in the United States. She also directed the university's American Studies program and co-directed the Africana Studies Initiative for several years. Melish is the author of "Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and 'Race' in New England, 1780-1860" and a number of essays on race and slavery in early America and slavery in public history and pedagogy. Currently she has an appointment as a Visiting Scholar in the American Studies Department at Brown University. Melish has been closely involved with the Center for Reconciliation since its inception.

PLEASE NOTE : This program will meet at the Diocesan House of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, next door to the Cathedral of St. John.

Art of Race:
Contemporary Art
 September 20, 6-7:30 p.m.
RISD Museum, Chace Center Entrance
20 North Main St., Providence
Join Elon Cook Lee, CFR program director and curator, and Dominic Molon, curator of contemporary art at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), for a special opportunity to explore and discuss the racial history of contemporary art in the RISD museum collection. 

SPACE IS LIMITED so please RSVP below to reserve a spot. If you are replying for more than one person please fill out a separate registration for EACH person with his or her name. If you have any questions please send an email to info@cfrri.org .

Tickets for this program are by donation. The suggested donation is $10 per person. Please note that all donations go toward ensuring that the CFR can continue hosting public programs that are open to ALL regardless of their ability to give.

More Upcoming Art of Race Programs (all from 6-7:30 p.m. at the RISD Museum):

  • The Art of Race: Costumes and Textiles. October 18, 2018. To register, CLICK HERE.

  • The Art of Race: Decorative Arts. November 15, 2018. To register, CLICK HERE.

  • The Art of Race: Prints, Drawings and Photographs. January 17, 2019. To register, CLICK HERE.

Stamped From The Beginning
Book Group Meeting
Biweekly Tuesdays, 6:30-8 p.m.
Cathedral of St. John
271 North Main Street, Providence
A lively group averaging 27 readers has participated in the CFR's inaugural book group, reading and discussing Ibram X. Kendi's "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America." Winner of the National Book Award in 2016, "Stamped from the Beginning" is self-described as "a searing history of how racist ideas were created, disseminated, and entrenched in America."

Discussions have been vigorous and enjoyable. Three meetings of the book group remain. The final session on October 9 will end in a "call to action," as participants decide on "next steps" to address the issues raised in the book.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN THE NEXT CFR BOOK CLUB, email HERE to express interest. Be sure to include " Book Club " in the subject line.

CFR Continues Popular College Hill
and the International Slave Trade
Walking Tours
With five newly trained tour guides, the CFR will resume on a regular basis its popular College Hill and the International Slave Trade walking tours.

Leaving from the corner of Brown and Power Streets near the John Brown House, tours examine more than 300 years of history in two hours, covering about one mile of the College Hill neighborhood. Stops include the John Brown House, Stephen Hopkins House, John Carter Brown Library, University Hall and the historic Cathedral of St. John. Although these tours are educational and engaging, they are also, at times, like an urban hike. The sidewalks are uneven, we cross a couple of busy streets and there is occasional road construction. Please make sure you dress comfortably and bring water. Restrooms and limited seating may be available at some stops.

The cost is $20, and spaces are limited. Please register in advance or bring $20 with you. For dates, details and to register, check the CFR website by clicking HERE .

If your group would like to schedule a special tour outside of the regular hours, let us know by sending an email to info@cfrri.org.

More Upcoming CFR Events
Don't miss these other exciting CFR programs planned for this fall:

Race and Voting Rights in Rhode Island, Tuesday, October 23. A conversation about how the history of slavery affects contemporary voting rights.

Race and the Second Amendment , Tuesday, October 30. Find out how the history of slavery impacted the creation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. A conversation with Professor Carl Bogus, distinguished research professor of law at the Roger Williams University School of Law. To register, CLICK HERE .

Both programs will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John, 271 N. Main St., Providence. For more information, check the CFR website by clicking HERE.
Past Events
An American Citizen
On July 26th, the CFR celebrated the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution with a roundtable discussion on the history of and contemporary discourse on birthright citizenship. We were joined by historians Michael Vorenberg, professor at Brown University, and Christian Gonzales, professor at the University of Rhode Island, as well as Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union, and Silvana Mercado, a rising senior at Providence College who spoke of her experience immigrating from Colombia to the U.S. as a child. Around 25 members of the Providence community participated in an intimate and thoughtful discussion about the category of “citizen,” how it has been mobilized as both a tool of inclusion and of exclusion, and its future under the current U.S. government administration. Thank you to our participants for your provocative questions and insightful comments! 

Resistance and Revolution
Two Dramatic Readings
On July 5, nearly 100 community members gathered at dusk at Roger Williams National Memorial to participate in a dramatic rendition of the Declaration of Independence and Frederick Douglass’s speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Forty attendees joined costumed interpreters onstage to read sections of Douglass’s speech and to participate in a critical conversation about the meanings of freedom and resistance. Everyone present enjoyed local fifth-grader Christopher Pierre’s performance of all four verses of the national anthem, as well as a much-appreciated visit from the Atomic Blondes ice cream truck. Thank you to the National Park Service for collaborating with us on this event, and all those who joined us for bringing your energy and enthusiasm! 

The Rev. Dante A. Tavolaro, curate at St. Luke’s, East Greenwich, attended our program, and was kind enough to share his reflections. This piece was originally published in the St. Luke’s weekly newsletter on July 6. A response from Terrlyn L. Curry Avery, Ph.D., MDiv. followed Rev. Tavolaro's essay.

To read Tavolaro's "Reflections on 'Resistance and Revolution" and Avery's response, CLICK HERE .

Racial Reconciliation Around
Rhode Island
American Irony: Religious Freedom & Slavery: On August 27, Emmanuel, Newport hosted Keith Stokes from the 1696 Heritage Group . Stokes presented a lecture detailing how Newport became an early center for religious toleration in British North America while simultaneously building its wealth and prosperity as a leading participant in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The presentation described the rising tensions among religious, commercial and government institutions as they hotly debated abolition and freedom for their country and each other leading up to the American Revolution. The presentation also covered the rapid evolution of the African community in Newport from enslaved to free, and examined the rise of the many of the earliest African benevolent, education and religious institutions in the Western Hemisphere.
I ncluded was an exhibit of Stokes family heirlooms dating back 200 years in Newport documenting early African American places of worship, masonic orders, civil rights and commerce.  The CFR co-sponsored the lecture and exhibit, collaborating with Emmanuel Church and the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society. 
Racial Reconciliation Across
New England
A screening of the film "Traces of the Trade" will take place on September 13 at 6 p.m. at the La Grua Center, 32 Water St.,Stonington, Connecticut. The film follows members of the DeWolf family, originally from Bristol, Rhode Island, as they trace their family's involvement in the slave trade. Following the film, Pam McDonald, CFR program coordinator, will facilitate a discussion. Sponsored by the Stonington Historical Society.
Racial Reconciliation Across
the Episcopal Church
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center For Racial Healing is working both in the Diocese of Atlanta and across the wider church to promote racial healing. The Center's website includes a link for dioceses to share their work. To learn more, visit the website HERE .
CFR Racial Justice Events Calendar
The CFR maintains a Racial Justice Events Calendar, showing events around the state that connect with our mission of racial reconciliation. The calendar is updated monthly. To see the calendar, visit our website

Further Resources
"So What If He Said It?" Code Switch podcast on Stitcher Radio. In recent weeks, rumors of a recording of President Trump using the N-Word have resurfaced. But critics have been describing Trump as racist for years. So, if this tape were to exist, would it even matter? To download FREE Stitcher Radio app on your phone, CLICK HERE .

"The Nearly Erased Artist Behind the Hidden Face of the Proposed Faneuil Hall Memorial." Adrian Walker, The Boston Globe, August 21. Steve Locke sat in a tranquil museum courtyard the other day and pondered a controversy of which he never thought he would be a part. “I’m really new at making public art works,” Locke said. “I was sort of hoping for an informed and intelligent conversation, but that isn’t the conversation that’s come out.” Locke is an African-American artist, who is also one of the city of Boston’s current artists-in-residence. In January, he wrote an intriguing proposal for an installation addressing the tragic origins of Faneuil Hall, a gift from a merchant Peter Faneuil who made part of his fortune from the slave trade. To read column, CLICK HERE .

"A Reckoning Over the North's Role in Slavery . Zipporah Osei, The Boston Globe ," August 24. The Old Burying Ground in Stoneham is one of those classic New England cemeteries with markers honoring the memory of Colonial settlers as well as activists in the abolition movement.... Every so often, the Stoneham Historical Commission opens up the space for guided tours of the tombstones of prominent community members, and the unmarked graves of the slaves who served them. Ben Jacques had just started learning about his town’s early history when he went on a tour of the graveyard. It made him wonder, who were these unnamed people that helped to build Stoneham? To read article, CLICK HERE .

"Heresies of Whiteness. Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion," by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, IVP Books. Book review by David Porter, Sojourners Magazine , September/October 2018. False gospel is interwoven throughout both our national identity and theological imagination. Beginning with America’s original sin of slavery, Wilson-Hartgrove moves through the Reconstruction era and subsequent redemption struggle, the Jim Crow South, the civil rights movement, and finally, to the truth of today: Systems of enslavement aren’t gone, they’ve merely evolved into new forms. Along the way, Wilson-Hartgrove highlights those who have baptized the sin of racism—from missionaries on slave ships to slavery-supporting preachers Thornton Stringfellow and George Washington Freeman, and to Franklin Graham and the Moral Majority—and outlines the destructive patterns of racial blindness, racial habits, and racial politics. To read review, CLICK HERE .

"BlackkKlansman." Feature film released August 10 nationwide . V isionary filmmaker Spike Lee teams up with writer/director Jordan Peele to share the incredible true story of an American hero. It’s the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth phones the local affiliate of the Ku Klux Klan and begins to infiltrate the group. The inexperienced but determined detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into his dangerous undercover investigation. The team succeeds with startling results, just as the national KKK aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream. Produced by the team behind the Academy-Award winning Get Out . If you watch one film per year to educate yourself about race in America, this is the one. It's riveting and effective. To watch trailer, CLICK HERE .

Please note: All CFR newsletters are available on our website. To read, CLICK HERE .
Please support our work by making a donation to the Center for Reconciliation. Donate online HERE