Summer  2017 Newsletter
The Art of Race 
August 17th
Spaces are limited!

Thursday, August 17
6 -7 pm

Meet at the Chace Center entrance to the RISD Museum
20 North Main Street

On July 19 The Center for Reconciliation joined Providence’s Gallery Night for a sold-out “The Art of Race” event at the RISD Museum. The program, first initiated by the CFR in 2016, provides opportunities to go behind the scenes at the RISD Museum, see pieces from their extensive collection that have never been on display, and discuss the intersection of art and race with community members from around the region. 

The dialogue at the center of the program will be facilitated by art historians from RISD and historians focused on race and culture from the Center for Reconciliation Audience members are invited to look, listen and share their perspectives on art and history. This program is only open to 20 participants in order to engender deep thinking, a vigorous discussion, and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the art.

RSVP TODAY through Eventbrite before this program is sold out! 
College Hill & the International Slave Trade Walking Tour

Friday, August 25,
2:30-4:30 pm

Tour departs from the corner of Brown and Power Streets in Providence, near the John Brown House Museum.

This two hour, one mile walk will explore 200 years of history and lead you inside four local historic sites, discussing Rhode Island’s complicity and resistance to the international slave trade from a variety of viewpoints. Everyone from the state’s wealthiest early citizens to its most recent antebellum immigrants helped the Ocean State become the US’s largest contributor to the slave trade. Tour stops include the John Brown House, John Carter Brown Library, University Hall, Stephen Hopkins House, Cathedral of St. John cemetery, and the Cathedral itself. Cost: $20. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more. There are limited spots available, and registration is required. Additional Walking Tours are planned through October.   To register, click here. 
All proceeds from the tours go toward the Center for Reconciliation's programs and exhibitions. 
Revolt and Reconciliation: Presentation and Discussion with author Patrick Breen about the Nat Turner Revolt and its impact on Racial Reconciliation
Thursday, September 7th, 7-8:30 pm
Providence College professor Patrick Breen will discuss his book, The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood, a history of the Nat Turner slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831. Nat Turner, an enslaved Baptist preacher, led a small army of enslaved rebels in the largest slave uprising in Southern history. The rebellion led to widespread fear, and violent retaliation by local whites along with panic, and the passage of new laws around the country prohibiting education of African-Americans, enslaved or free, and restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free black people.

Dr. Breen will explore the story of the Nat Turner revolt, the efforts to re-establish communion in Virginia's Baptist churches, and with staff from the CFR lead small group discussions on racial reconciliation. Join us for a discussion of what racial reconciliation has or could one day look like.   To register, click here.

Past Center for Reconciliation Events

July 29th

Bishop Nicholas Knisely, Karen Knisely, CFR program director Elon Cook and volunteer coordinator Pam McDonald visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. They met with staff around the museum and enjoyed a breakfast with staff from the National Cathedral.

Center for Reconciliation Holds First Meeting of Local CFR Church Liaisons

CFR Church Liaisons are individuals or pairs who volunteer to help us build a bridge between the work of the Center for Reconciliation and the race-related educational needs or interests of their church's congregation. 

Americans of faith across the country and around our state have been calling for guidance, educational opportunities and safe spaces for dialogues on race relations. On June 20, the Center for Reconciliation (CFR) continued its efforts to answer this call by leading racial reconciliation programs including creating a new long term initiative, the CFR Church Liaisons. This first, introductory gathering of Center for Reconciliation Church Liaisons included individuals representing nine churches within the Rhode Island Episcopal Diocese, as well as a representative from American Baptist churches in the Greater Providence area.

Church Liaisons and CFR staff met to get to know one another, discuss upcoming programs, and ways for houses of worship to partner with the CFR. The meeting and  materials, links and resources provided to Church Liaisons will aid them in sharing with their churches and partnering with the CFR to produce events centered on racial reconciliation.   

Interested in becoming the CFR Church Liaison for your house of worship? All that is required is to be interested in the CFR’s mission, be willing to learn more about the history of slavery and the slave trade in RI, be committed to sharing CFR events with your congregation, and to keep the CFR informed about local events and programs involving race . Interested individuals can send a message and their preferred contact information to:

Elon Cook Participates in Panel at the
American Association of Museums Conference

Elon Cook, Program Director and Curator for the Center for Reconciliation, presented “Interpreting Oppression: An Uncomfortable Opportunity,” at the American Association of Museums Conference in St. Louis, May 8-9, 2017. Ms. Cook discussed the challenge of interpreting narratives of trauma, racial oppression, slavery, and racial justice activism in a region that remains wrapped comfortably in its liberal, abolitionist mythology. Myth busting race work is becoming a necessary component of interpreting slavery, race and American history in general at modern historic sites. She discussed examples and strategies she has employed at multiple historic sites to encourage staff sensitivity and improve research and interpretation. She also explored the struggle of interpreting the history of the violent oppression of black bodies for mostly white audiences, while inhabiting a black body, and living through the seemingly constant repetition of violent, state sanctioned Black deaths in the news.
Elon also flew to Charleston, SC to lead and participate in conference panels on race, public memory and museum interpretation at the  Transforming Public History conference that was sponsored by the College of Charleston. While there she had the profound opportunity to tour the historic  Mother Emanuel AME Church, discuss interpretation strategies with the National Museum of African American History and Culture's director Lonnie Bunch and participate in local enslaved history walking tours. 

Pam McDonald represents CFR at the Rhode Island Docent Symposium

Pam McDonald, Volunteer Program Coordinator, represented the Center for Reconciliation (CFR) on a panel discussion at the Rhode Island Docent Symposium, titled, “Race in Museums.” The Symposium took place at the Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA, on May 8.

Pam presented a 15 minute video interview with Elon Cook, Program Director and Curator for the CFR. Ms. Cook talked about how to develop respectful interpretations of enslaved and gradually emancipated people, by collaborating with universities and other historic sites. She emphasized the importance of telling the truth about our history. Keith Stokes from the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society then spoke about the importance of representing enslaved people from the point of view of the people themselves (their family, food, culture, religion, skills, etc.) rather than simply as "slaves." Pam, Keith, and Morgan Grefe, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Society answered questions posed by the 40 docents present at the program.

College Hill & the International Slave Trade Walking Tours are off to a great start. Book group tours today!

We've hosted three College Hill and the International Slave Trade Walking Tours so far in 2017. The walking tours are one of the most popular programs offered by the Center for Reconciliation.  Additional tours will be held throughout the summer and fall. To schedule a tour for a group of friends, class, colleagues or congregation please contact Discounts are available for groups of 10 to 20.

Center for Reconciliation Holds
Museum Charrette

On April 28-29, the Ce nter for Reconciliation (CFR) convened a gathering of six thought leaders, practitioners, thinkers, and creators from museums and historic sites around the country., including the Smithsonian, Whitney Plantation, the Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Amistad Center and the Tracing Center. These experts were asked to join the CFR Museum Team and members of the Coordinating Committee in envisioning and informing possibilities for a museum focused upon the creation of spaces of reconciliation, and learning about slavery and the slave trade in New England.   

CFR Is a Partner for Presentation by Bryan Stevenson, Author of Just Mercy

In early April the Center for Reconciliation had the privilege of being a partner with Read Across Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Committee on the Humanities for a presentation by Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy. Bryan Stevenson is a law professor at New York University and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. His presentation focused on four themes: proximity, narrative, hope, and discomfort. These are significant themes for anyone who is focused on racial reconciliation.

CFR Joins Interfaith Anti-Semitism Vigil
Center for Reconciliation members joined other members of Rhode Island’s Interfaith Community who gathered in response to the increased acts of anti-Semitism in our community. The vigil was held on Sunday, March 5th at the Rhode Island Holocaust Memorial in downtown Providence.