The Truth-telling and Reconciliation Subgroup supports the mission of the African American Ambassadors Group by uncovering the truth of past and present wrongs and their impact on African and Indigenous peoples, celebrating both surviving communities as well as individual survivors, and laying the groundwork for quality of life improvements by establishing processes for resolution, reconstruction, reparations, and reconciliation in the City of Providence.
- Since the launch of the Truth-telling, Reconciliation and Reparations Executive Order, community members came together to submit their thoughts and ideas to help frame the direction for the contracted historians.
- Members worked with the City to create a logo to reflect this process.
- On September 3, 2020 members of the African American Ambassador Group voted to officially engage with a research and documentation team.
Group researched best practices across the country to begin preliminary discussions and action items for truth-telling and reconciliation processes.
TRUTH: This process shall begin with Truth, first by identifying, compiling, and synthesizing the relevant corpus of evidentiary documentation of the institution of slavery, the genocide of Indigenous people, and the forced assimilation that existed within the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence; and
The Truth will include documentation and examination of the facts related to: the capture and procurement of Africans; the transport of Africans to Rhode Island for the purpose of enslavement, including their treatment during transport; the sale and acquisition of Africans as chattel property in interstate and intrastate commerce; the treatment of African slaves in Rhode Island, including the deprivation of their freedom, exploitation of their labor, and destruction of their culture, language, religion, and families; and the extensive denial of humanity, sexual abuse, and chatellization of persons; and
The Truth will include documentation and examination of the facts related to: the capture and procurement of Indigenous people; the sanctioned genocide of Indigenous People, the treatment of Indigenous people in Rhode Island, including the deprivation of their freedom, exploitation of their labor, seizing of their land, and destruction of their culture, language, religion, and families; and the extensive denial of humanity, sexual abuse, and chatellization of persons and property; and
The Truth will examine the role of the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence in supporting the institution of slavery, the genocide of Indigenous people, forced assimilation, and seizure of land in constitutional and statutory provisions, and
The Truth will examine the state and municipal laws that discriminated against formerly enslaved Africans and people of color and their descendants and Indigenous people from when they were deemed United States citizens to the present.
The Truth will examine and document those laws, policies and customs that created a “Separate and Unequal” existence for African heritage people in Providence and Rhode Island after the abolishment of slavery and continued throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Truth will examine the other forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed African slaves and their descendants, Indigenous people and people of color from when they were deemed United States citizens to present, including but not limited to redlining, educational funding discrepancies, and predatory financial practices.
The Truth will examine the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery, Indigenous genocide, and seizure of Indigenous lands.
The Truth will examine and document that although slavery was abolished with the end of the Civil War, the brutalities of racial discrimination persisted under the guise of Jim Crow laws in the South and Jim Crow traditions in the North.
The Research Project Vision Statement
Providence, Rhode Island history is the collective memory of its entire people and throughout the year, citizens must recognize the important roles that people of all walks of life played in the building of our city. The interdependence between these people is what made our city, state, and country strong and our history unique. To tell the story completely, it must be inclusive.
African heritage and Indigenous people have made and continue to make major contributions to the city’s history and culture. This legacy has its roots in Ancient Africa and America before European colonization and adaptations are statewide, particularly here in the City of Providence.
Historically, Providence, starting with Indigenous people and by the 17th century, African heritage people, have long been a part of our city and in present day, African heritage and Indigenous people can be seen in our many city residents of African, bi-racial, Latino, Cape Verdean, Caribbean, and Native People’s backgrounds. Yet, the accomplishments and contributions of African heritage people have generally been invisible in public education.
This important research effort will not only document and validate the struggle for African heritage and Indigenous people to survive and thrive in the City of Providence but will help to create an environment that will increase fairness, equity, and justice.
The Research and Documentation Team is comprised of the following historical and academic leadership:
- Rhode Island Black Heritage Society (Team Leader)
- Rhode Island Historical Society
- 1696 Heritage Group
- Providence Preservation Society
- Historical Author – Gerald Carbone
- The Team will also review collections and access documents through the Providence City Archives, State of Rhode Island Archives and Providence Public Library Archives.
Currently being developed by community members as historians lead truth-telling research.
Adama Brown- Hathaway
Brooke T. Waldron
Brother Muyideen Ibiyemi
Debra L. Sharpe
Dr. Tom Keefe
Mary Beth Meehan
Rep. Anastasia Williams
Theresa “Soni” Stokes
Tracey M. Giron
CITY LEADS: Shawndell Burney-Speaks, Bret Jacob, and Tracey M. Giron