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No Strange Fruit for Newport

Southern trees bear a strange fruitBlood on the leaves and blood at the rootBlack bodies swingin’ in the Southern breezeStrange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees Lyrics from “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday, 1939 Newport, Rhode Island in 1913 was… Continue Reading →

The Right to be Heard: Black Voices in Rhode Island History

As we are in the midst of a worldwide Black Lives Matter and social justice movement, the right to be heard as people of African heritage is tantamount with building a more just society. Here in Rhode Island, there are… Continue Reading →

Saving Old Glory

Although I can trace my family to the early formation of America, our ethnic experience was not as recorded or valued the same as the traditional accounts of the early American experience. As a person of African heritage, I had… Continue Reading →

From Enslavement to Entitlement

2020 has proven to be a difficult and stressful year. COVID19 has us sheltering in place, and then the brutal killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer had us surging into the streets in protest. To say that… Continue Reading →

The Rhode Island Origins of the Back to Africa Movement

RHODE ISLAND BLACK HISTORY ONLINE – For the RI Black Heritage Society While much of African heritage historical research and interpretation regarding the 19th and early 20th centuries “Back to Africa” movement has focused largely on the efforts of the… Continue Reading →

Black Votes Matter

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution that enacted the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United… Continue Reading →

“The Negro in Rhode Island: His Past, Present & Future”

Over one hundred and thirty years ago, my ancestor, Reverend Mahlon Van Horne of Newport, Rhode Island wrote a narrative on the past, present and future of the “Negro” in Rhode Island and the nation. This narrative faithfully reflects today’s… Continue Reading →


July 11th has always been significant to me – after all, it is the day I was born. However, it is also the day, 241 years ago, that my ancestor, Moses Michael Hays stood before the majority government and religious… Continue Reading →

A Memorial Day Address

149th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony, Warren Rhode Island THE WORLD OF WILLIAM BARTON & JACK SISSON Let me begin with; there may be no more noble a cause than the men and women of the Armed Services who routinely place… Continue Reading →

Old Glory: The Symbol of One America

After four long years of blood and war, Union Troops on the morning of April 3, 1865 entered the city of Richmond, Virginia, then capital of the Confederate States of America. Richmond had become the single-minded focus of the Union… Continue Reading →

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