Africans in Newport History Celebration

1696_logoOn Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 11am as part of the City of Newport’s 375th Anniversary Celebration, members of the African Alliance of Rhode Island will come together to oversee a ceremony to recognize and celebrate the thousands of persons of West African heritage that once lived, worked, worshiped and died in Colonial Newport that are represented by the several hundred burial markers that remain in God’s Little Acre.
aariThe African Alliance of Rhode Island (aari) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of Africans living in the State of Rhode Island. Dating back to 17th century, Rhode Island has been home to many from the continent of Africa. Today, there are over seventy-five thousand Africans from forty African countries living in Rhode Island. Continue reading

Still on the Plantation

WWI_iconThe years leading up to and through WWI, America would see the first Great Migration of African American families who would move from the rural south to urban cities in the north. During that time nearly 2 million men, women and children would leave the plantations and farms of the rural south to find better work and living opportunities in urban cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland and Chicago. Continue reading

In The Name of History

Many times, when you live and were raised in a historic community like my home in Newport, Rhode Island, you take for granted the significant sites and structures in the place you call home. My family has lived on Vernon Avenue for four generations. We have played baseball and tennis at Vernon Park next to our home. And up the street is the historic Vernon Family estate, “Elmhyrst” designed by famed Russell Warren, the leader of Greek Revival architecture in early America. But as I was surrounded by everything Vernon, it would later become clear to me that the Vernon name, which has been synonymous in Newport with our founding settlers and early commerce and political leadership, is also tied to the African Slave Trade. Continue reading

Colonial Mystery: Two Markers, One Child

Oliver, Ann

Ann Oliver
Newport, RI

In all the years that I have worked researching and interpreting slave cemeteries, the most interesting and baffling discovery I have come across is the matching burial markers in Newport, RI and Dorchester, MA of a young slave girl named Ann. She died in June 1743 at two years of age. Her mother’s name was Mimbo and they were both slaves in the Robert Oliver household in Dorchester. Continue reading