Many Faces: Photographs of Rhode Island African Americans

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Event Details


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RIBHS’s “Many Faces” gallery will present visitors with historic photos of African Americans in Rhode Island. The opening reception will be on July 17th at 5:30pm in John Brown House Museum.

This exhibit will run through September. If you would like to submit a photo to the gallery, please call RIBHS at 401-421-0606.

About RIBHS: The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society is constituted for the purpose of procuring, collecting, and preserving; books, pamphlets, letters, manuscripts, prints, photographs, paintings, and historical materials relating to the history of African Americans in Rhode Island. RIBHS also encourages and promotes the study of African-American history through lectures and making information available to the general community.

In 1975, the founding members of The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society sought to preserve three centuries of African-American experience in our state by identifying local “”Keepers of the Story”. With their all-important support the Society assembled a collection that documents local African Americans’ accomplishments in the fields of military service, business, politics, the arts and education.

The first public sharing of that collection took form in a Rhode Island Black Heritage Society exhibit called “A Heritage Discovered: Black in Rhode Island.” A decade later came the award-winning 1985 exhibit and publication, “Creative Survival.”

Over the intervening years, your friends and neighbors, along with thousands of other Rhode Islanders, have earned “”Keeper of the Story” status by helping to preserve the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and its collection, through support of the annual Black Heritage Ball.

Today, the need for a fresh infusion of support cannot be overstated. As you may know, The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society recently was forced to move out of the now-vacant Arcade in downtown Providence. Its collection of our stories has been sent into exile, locked away in a storage facility that affords neither access nor a sophisticated preservation environment.

Among the at-risk, irreplaceable treasures in The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society collection are slave documents; a pew from the historic Pond Street Church; memorabilia from famed opera singer Sissieretta Jones; and original canvasses by Edward Bannister, founder and creative force behind the Providence Art Club.

The bottom line: three centuries of Black history in Rhode Island are in danger of becoming fading, historical abstractions. No more exhibits. No more access. Gone.

Unless we become 21st century “Keepers of the Story”.”” -Joyce Stevos, President of RIBHS.

Featured image from The John Brown House Museum on Google+. 

Author: Tim Blankenship

I work on websites.

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