Rhode Island Historical Society Announces Programming Slate Honoring Black History Month


(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) – The Rhode Island Historical Society will commemorate Black History Month with a full slate of programs in February highlighting the achievements and impact of Black Rhode Islanders, as well as the work of contemporary Black-led organizations. Programs include:


What: Valley Talks: Making Art History

When: Sunday, Feb. 4, 1:30 p.m.

Where: The Museum of Work & Culture (42 S. Main St., Woonsocket, Rhode Island, 02985)

In September 2023, more than 120 years after his passing, Providence honored gifted artist Edward Mitchell Bannister with a public statue. Hear about Bannister’s history and legacy from RIHS Executive Director Christiana Morgan Grefe, followed by sculptor Gage Prentiss detailing his inspiration and process in creating this tribute.


What: A Purposeful Life: Charles Thomas and the Struggle for Racial Equality in Sports

When: Wednesday, February 7, 7 p.m.

Where: Zoom

Historian Robert Cvornyek will present on Rhode Island-born athlete Charles Thomas. Thomas lived most of his life in Providence as a respected mentor to the city's African American youth. During his long athletic career, Thomas competed at the amateur, collegiate, semi-pro, and professional levels. He integrated a few line-ups along the way but also played on teams comprised solely of non-white players. His multiple experiences provide insight into how Black athletes navigated the troubled waters of segregation, found pride in all-Black teams, and showcased their talents to advance the struggle for freedom and equality in several different arenas, including the baseball diamond, basketball court, and football field.


What: Dr. Ira Reid: Haverford College’s Unsung Scholar Activist Documentary Screening with Rhode Island Black Film Festival

When: Saturday, February 10, 2 p.m.

Where: Aldrich House (110 Benevolent St., Providence, RI, 02906)

Dr. Ira Reid: Haverford College's Unsung Scholar Activist tells the story of the transformational scholar who strengthened the chorus of justice, peace, and equal opportunity for all. In the first half of the 20th century, Ira de Augustine Reid was the first African American to pioneer the acceptance of Black scholars as faculty members at predominantly White Northern universities. His study of Black immigrant communities resulted in a close working relationship with W. E. B. DuBois. He later mentored a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who served as Reid's research assistant. Following the screening, director Rel Dowdell will speak about the process of creating the film and the importance of Reid’s legacy.