Repainting Tradition: Sayles Hall Portraits

“When we read history, it is merely a record of abstract names.’ - Lord Palmerston Lord Palmerston, one of the early supporters of the National Portrait Gallery, felt that the Gallery would act as a source of inspiration by providing visual…

Paul Cuffe Memorial

When Cuffe–a man of color, born to a Wampanoag woman and a freed slave–and his crew–all Black or Native men–disembarked, they were met with “astonishment and alarm” by the townsfolk. Locals ran to the docks and urged the Customs officials not to give…

Alexander Crummell

“We claim . . . that to deprive the colored people of this State of the immunities of citizenship, on account of the color of the skin, (a matter over which they have no control), is anti-republican; and against such a procedure we enter our solemn…

The Home of Sissieretta Jones

If anyone deserves a blockbuster biopic on this tour, it is Sissieretta Jones. Jones, a soprano, studied voice at the Providence Academy of Music, the New England Conservatory and the Boston Conservatory and in 1892 became the first African-American…

"Watchman, what of the night?"

By the early 1900s, race relations in the United Sates had grown increasingly tumultuous. Despite the abolishment of slavery, post-Civil War America was laden with barriers for people of color. Prominent Black leaders disagreed about how best to…

The Brown Founders' Legacy

Fed up! Perhaps they didn't hear you the first time. Every so often, you have to redeliver the message. That’s exactly what happened in 1975, when a Third World Coalition led by Black students occupied University Hall for 38 hours. Black, Latino, and…

The World was his Oyster

“I would have been a millionaire today if I had bent to prejudice.” So said George Thomas Downing, prominent African American Rhode Island restaurateur and civil rights champion. From behind the curtains of his lavish Sea Girt Hotel, built on this…

The Celebrity Club: Best Jazz in Providence

On November 18, 1949, at 56 Randall Street, in the mostly poor, mostly black, Randall Square neighborhood, local African Americans crowded into the new Celebrity Club bar. It wasn’t quite finished, but the crowd didn’t pay much attention to the…

Education at Any Cost

"I remember being much pleased with my nice clothes, and still more so, as I saw so many boys and girls of all sizes at the school, all dressed so nice and clean. … I thought it was one of the most charming sights I had ever beheld." - William J.…