A black and white photo of a man in a suit.

Black History Month activities in Rhode Island

by Ann Clanton, “Speak-Up” contributing writer

Photo: Langston Hughes

An American lawyer and civil rights activist who served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court once said of Black History Month, that it’s “recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” Rhode Island’s humanities, arts, and civil rights community have a February lineup of programs to entertain and educate Southern New England throughout the entire month. Here is a listing of ways to celebrate Black History Month in the Ocean State:

TODAY:  Langston Hughes Committee (LHCPRC) – Sunday, February 6, 1pm: The Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading Birthday Celebration! Looking Back to Move Forward. This virtual celebration, live streamed from the Providence Public Library’s Donald J. Farish Auditorium, including music by the incomparable Becky Bass, interviews with Anne Edmonds Clanton, the LHCPR’s visionary founder, and Ramona Bass-Kolobe, widow of esteemed Langston Hughes scholar George Houston Bass; and highlights from 29 years of celebrating this beloved intergenerational event, blending the magnificent words of Langston Hughes spoken through the voices of the community with the sounds of Jazz. Copy and paste the following link to register.

Wednesday, February 9, 6pm – Stages of Freedom and The Redwood Library of Newport present Rhode Island Black Literature and The Black Press in RI: A Conversation with Robb Dimmick and Ray Rickman. To register for this free event, go to the following link.  An examination of writings by and about Rhode Island African Americans documenting black life in the Ocean State, including those on slavery, the brave Black Regiment, the church, biographies, fiction as well as black newspapers.

Saturday, February 12, 6-8pm – HeARTspot Art Center and Gallery Opening Reception and Black History Show Juried by Gem Barros. Exclusively featuring artists who are part of the African American community, this show showcases a wide array of art from painting, photography, and sculpture, realism and abstraction, and a wide variety of subject matters. Selected artists include Chandra Akerblom, Gem Barros, Shawndavid Berry, Mayté Castillo, Sydney Darrow, Danielle DePeza, April Doran, Tishawna Dunphy, Matthew Hill, Morgan Jamieson, Fitzcarmel LaMarre and Joseph Mushipi.

Saturday, February 19, 2pm – The Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island celebrates the 150th anniversary of poet and author, Paul Laurence Dunbar with a screening and discussion of the Rhode Island Black Film Festival official selection, BEYOND THE MASK: PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR. Brown University graduate and documentary filmmaker, Fredrick Lewis will discuss his film. A reception will follow the film. Registration required. To register go to the link at the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island’s ( website.

February 26, 2:00 p.m. The Rhode Island Slave History Medallions (RISHM) presents “Benevolence and Success in the Era of Slavery: Duchess Quamino and William Ellery Channing”, Channing Memorial Church, 135 Pelham Street, Newport, and simulcast live online at YouTube live from the Channing Memorial Church, 135 Pelham Street, Newport, and simulcast live online at YouTube: “A Rhode Island Slave History Medallions marker will be placed at the historic William Ellery Channing home at 24 School Street on Historic Hill in Newport. For more information, please contact RISHM director Charles Roberts at [email protected].


Ann-Allison Clanton was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. As principle of Ann Clanton Communications, Ann has more than two decades of experience as a communications and public affairs consultant. She has written features and profiles articles for the Providence American Newspaper and Ethnic Online Magazine.

Among the notable persons interviewed include former U. S. Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Cornell West, former Florida Congressman Allen West (R-FL) and Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus first African American Ringmaster, Johnathan Lee Iverson.

Ann is the founder of the Rhode Island Black Film Festival and a founding member of the Southern New England Association of Black Journalists.