Events

1901


The Olney Street Baptist Church is established at 20 Onley Street and would become a major meeting place for religious and civic meetings within the Lippett Hill community.

1902


George T Downing, Dr. Alonzo Van Horne and other Newport men of color publish An Expression from the Oppressed, to point out the unjust treatment of colored citizens in Southern states denied basic political rights and voting enfranchisement.

1905

The Marathon Club is established in Providence supporting wide-ranging activities in Rhode Island including athletic events, civil rights and justice issues.

1906


Newport businessman Fredrick E. Williams becomes the first African heritage person to be elected to Newport City Council.<br />

1909


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is organized to advance justice for African heritage people led by W. E. B. Du Bois.<br />

1910


John C Minkins becomes Editor of the Providence Daily Evening News, the first African heritage editor of a white-owned newspaper. He is active member of NAACP and becomes a national lecturer on issues of race relations in America.<br />

1911


Dr. William H. Higgins is elected to the Republican City Committee representing the Seventh Ward of Providence.<br />

1913

The Providence Branch NAACP is organized led by prominent Civil Rights attorney Joseph G. LeCount with Dr. Julius Robinson as the first President and Roberta J. Dunbar as Secretary.<br />

1917


Over 1800 African heritage citizens participate in the Negro Silent Protest Parade in Providence. The silent march was organized by the NAACP, church, and community leaders from Providence, Newport and Boston to protest violence and lynchings directed towards African heritage citizens across the country.<br />

1918


During WWI, Mary E. Jackson of Providence and ardent worker in the Women s Suffrage Movement, is appointed as Special Field Worker Among Colored Girls under the War Work Council for the YWCA.<br />

1919

The Rev. William J. Lucas, pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church is founder and first president of the Newport Branch NAACP.<br />

1920

The Julia Ward Howe Republican Women s Club is founded by Bertha G. Higgins of Providence to support colored women political involvement after passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.<br />

1922


The Colored Independent Political Association is organized at the Winter AME Zion Church in Providence stating, We reaffirm the right of the colored citizens of Rhode Island to equal opportunity and responsibility before the law. <br />

1924

A crowd estimated at 8,000 on July 27th attend a Ku Klux Klan rally at the Old Home Day Grounds in Foster where hundreds of members were initiated at the rally.<br />

1926


Governor Aram J. Pothier appoints James M. Stockett of Providence as the first African heritage man to a state board. The State Returning Board was established to collect, count, and tabulate public election votes.<br />

1926

A suspicious fire is set at the Watchman Industrial Institute, a training home for colored children in North Scituate. The local KKK chapter is suspected of that and later fires at the campus.<br />

1930

William H. Jackson of Newport, the State House Sergeant At Arms presents an Anti-Lynching platform to the Republican National Convention.<br />

1933


Martin Canavan is chairman of the Newport Colored Men s Democratic Club. The club is an outspoken critic of lack of patronage support for Negros by the Republican Party locally and nationally.<br />

1934

The Providence Branch NAACP successfully advocates for the removal of For Colored and For White signs from the stables and restaurant at the new Narragansett Park and Race Track.<br />

1934


John F. Lopez and Bertha G. Higgins lead the formation of a Providence Colored Democratic Club.

1939

Providence Urban League is organized under the leadership of James N. Williams.<br />

1943


A state report entitled, Report of the Commission on the Employment Problems of the Negro is released in May. Major findings include The findings of unfair, discriminatory practices against Negro applicants for positions. And that legislation be enacted to prohibit discrimination in employment of persons of any race, color, sex or nationality. <br />

1944


Civil Rights attorney Joseph LeCount and John F. Lopez as President of Providence Branch NAACP joined Thurgood Marshall in successfully bringing suit against the Boilermakers Union to enable over 500 African American men to equally work as union members at the Kaiser Shipyard in Providence.<br />

1944


Led by Mrs. S. Foster Hunt, the Providence Urban League, as part of an on-going effort to secure equal opportunities for Negroes, secures an agreement with the Nursing School Council at Rhode Island Hospital to accept colored applicants for the first time.<br />

1947

Rhode Island Council for Fair Employment Practices is organized. Leaders include Senator John Fitzgerald of Newport, James Williams of the Providence Urban League and Joseph LaCount of Providence NAACP.<br />

1948

President Harry S. Truman issues Executive Order 9981 that abolishes racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces and eventually led to the end of segregation in the services.<br />

1949


Rhode Island enacts the Fair Employment Practices Act that declares the state to foster the employment of all individuals in this state in accordance with their fullest capacities, regardless of their race or color, religion. <br />

1949

The Federal American Housing Act of 1949 becomes a landmark, sweeping expansion of the federal role in the construction of public housing. The Act also provides federal funding for slum clearance programs associated with urban renewal projects in American cities. Providence and Newport establish Redevelopment Agencies to lead local redevelopment efforts.<br />

1949

The Rhode Island Commission Against Discrimination is created with the declaration the practice or policy of discrimination against individuals ...is a matter of state concern", and that "discrimination foments public strife and unrest, threatens the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the state, and undermines the foundations of a free democratic state. <br />

1953


George Alvin Wiley graduates from the University of Rhode Island and becomes one of the foremost state and national antipoverty and civil rights leaders, most notably the National Welfare Rights Organization.<br />

1954

Led by National NAACP Legal Counsel, Thurgood Marshall, the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, becomes a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declares state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.<br />

1956


An Urban League Office is established in Newport for the purposes of Improving the working and living conditions of non-white citizens. The key issue is the city s Urban Renewal efforts within the West Broadway neighborhood.<br />

1958


Citizens United for Fair Housing is organized and led by businessman Irving J. Fain. That year, they submit legislation that would prohibit racial and other group discrimination in the sale or rental of private houses in the state. <br />

1959


Led by Providence attorney Robert Dresser, over 500 opponents of the Fair Housing legislation protest at the Rhode Island State House stating a fair housing law would infringe on private property rights, legislate social progress, lower property values and increase racial tension in the state. <br />

1962


The Providence Redevelopment Agency approves Irving Jay Fain s University Heights mix-use redevelopment plan for 32 acres within the Lippitt Hill neighborhood. The project was the first housing development in Rhode Island within an urban renewal project area that combined racial and economic integration.<br />

1963

Lippitt Hill Tutorial is incorporated to address the educational needs of disadvantaged children in the East Side of Providence.<br />

1963

The Providence Human Rights Commission is established by City Ordinance to enforce laws of equal opportunity in the City of Providence.<br />

1963

Providence Urban League and NAACP lead the planning for two buses of supporters to participate in the March on Washington on August 28th.<br />

1964

The Federal Civil Rights Act ends segregation in public places and bans employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.<br />

1964

The Providence NAACP successfully advocates for Philip F. Addison Jr. to become an elected member of the Providence City Council.<br />

1965

The Federal Voting Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination in voting, outlaws literacy tests, and similar devices that were historically used to disenfranchise African heritage citizens.<br />

1965


The Rhode Island Fair Housing Practices law is enacted stating, No owner having the right to sell, rent, lease, or manage a housing accommodation or an agent of any of these, shall, directly or indirectly, make, or cause to be made, any written or oral inquiry concerning race, color, religion <br />

1965


According to US Census data, there are 25,000 nonwhite persons in Rhode Island. Of that number, 90 percent were listed as Negroes, with the largest number of 15,000 living in Providence.<br />

1965


Whitney M. Young, Executive Director of the National Urban League calls Providence one of the most segregated cities in the nation, having all of the ingredients for a riot. His remarks were based upon the prevalent discrimination in housing within the city and state.<br />

1966


Isadore S. Ramos Jr. becomes the first teacher of color at East Providence High School. Later he becomes the first Cape Verdean Mayor in Rhode Island and America.<br />

1967

On August 2nd after an Annual Emancipation Day celebration, a riot occurs within the Prairie Avenue neighborhood in South Providence.<br />

1967

The Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School is opened on Camp Street through an innovative student and learning integration plan combining white and black students from the former Doyle Avenue and Jenkins Street Schools.<br />

1967


In response to the high unemployment and job training needs within urban neighborhoods of Providence, the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of Rhode Island was founded by Clifford R. Monteiro, Michael Van Leesten, Reverend Arthur L. Hardge, and Charles Moe Adams.<br />

1968

Citizens United for Urban Enterprises (CURE) is founded in Providence whose purpose would be to make a large-scale attack on housing problems in cooperation with neighborhood groups. Founding members include Charles Adams, Andrew Bell, Clifford Monteiro and Albert Carrington.<br />

1968

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4th of that year.<br />

1969


Fredrick C. Williamson of Providence is appointed as director of the newly created Department of Community Affairs. That same year he becomes State Historic Preservation Officer.

1971

The City of Providence becomes one of the earliest Northeast cities to embrace public school desegregation and the Providence School Committee presents a plan for the desegregation of the Senior High Schools.<br />

1974

RI Human Rights Commission announces a five-fold increase in employment discrimination on Aquidneck Island indirectly related to Navy cutbacks ..year<br />

1975

Naval Education Training Center at Newport establishes an Equal Employment Opportunity Policy for the elimination of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, nation of origin and sex to include all base employees, suppliers, and any organization that conducts general business. <br />

1975

On July 5th of this year, the Republic of Cabo Verde achieves independence from Portugal. Rhode Island has a large and historic Cape Verdean community within Fox Point neighborhood of Providence, East Providence, Pawtucket and Newport.

1975


The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society is incorporated this year.

1976

Lloyd T. Griffin, Jr. is elected to the Providence City Council serving the 10th Ward becoming the first African heritage council person in South Providence.<br />

1976

Providence NAACP successfully brings suit against New England Telephone for racial discrimination in the application of an Ability Test. The Federal Equal Opportunity Employment Center would obtain an agreement from the Company to limit the use of the test.<br />

1978

The United States Supreme Court under the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke uphold a landmark decision on Affirmative Action, allowing race to be one of several factors in college admission policy.<br />

1980

Alton William Wiley, Esq. is appointed Associate Judge of the District Court of Rhode Island by Governor J. Joseph Garrahy.<br />

1981

Rhode Island enacts Public Law 42-77 to establish the Minority Groups Advisory Commission stating, The commission shall establish, maintain, and develop cultural ties among various minority groups located within the state; advise the governor and general assembly on any problem encountering various groups of minorities, especially refugees; and foster a special interest in the historical and cultural background of minority groups, as well as in the economic, political, social, and artistic life of the countries involved. <br />

1981


Paul L. Gaines of Newport becomes the first African heritage mayor in Rhode Island.

1983

Charles D. Walton becomes the first elected African heritage state senator representing the City of Providence Southside community.<br />

1986

Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) is organized in Providence by a group of residents seeking to address socio-economic problems in the Southside neighborhoods.<br />