Events

1808


On this date in Newport, members of Newport s Free African Benevolent Society advertise for students for one of the earliest African organized private schools in America

1819


The congregation under the Congdon Street Baptist Church is established as the first independent African heritage church in Rhode Island

1822

African heritage men are barred from voting in Rhode Island

1824


A race riot takes place that destroys a predominately African heritage community in Providence called Hard Scrabble. A second race riot occurs in 1831in a nearby neighborhood called Snowtown

1830

Pond Street Free Baptist Church organized in Providence

1831

Alfred Niger and George Willis of Providence represent Rhode Island in the first American Society of Free Persons of Colour Convention in Philadelphia

1838

The first public school for African heritage children is established on Meeting Street in Providence

1842


As an aftermath to the Dorr Rebellion, at the November session of the General Assembly of Rhode Island meeting at Newport, the Rhode Island Constitution is revised and ratified giving African heritage men among others the right to vote, but not Narraganset Indians

1850

An African Church is located on Wood Street in Bristol. Building also housed a school for African heritage children

1850


Starting in Roger Williams Park and later at Rocky Point and Crescent Park, the Rhode Island African heritage community would come together annually to celebrate the British and later American Slavery Emancipation

1856


Thomas Howland becomes first African heritage man elected to public office in Providence as Warden of the Third Ward

1857

Newport and Providence African heritage leaders begin a movement to fully integrate public schools in Rhode Island

1860


Isaac Rice homestead at the corner of William and Thomas streets in Newport is used as an Underground Railroad stop

1866


The Federal Civil Rights Act declares that all persons born in the United States were now citizens, without regard to race, color, or previous condition stating, All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other.

1866

Led by George T. Downing, the integration of public schools in Rhode Island is enacted stating, No distinction shall be made on account of the race or color of the applicant.

1870


The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified prohibiting the restriction of voting rights on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

1871


The Union Colored Congregational Church building is completed and becomes a focal place for religious, civic and political meetings in Newport

1872

Rev. Mahlon Van Horne becomes the first African heritage person elected to a Rhode Island public school board in Newport

1873


White and Colored political and civic leaders come together to raise funds to send a Newport delegation to the National Colored Convention

1881

Rhode Island General Assembly would repeal a Colonial Era Act prohibiting interracial marriages

1883

The United States Supreme Court declares the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional and declares the Fourteenth Amendment forbids states, but not citizens, from discriminating

1885


Rev. Mahlon Van Horne of Newport becomes the first African heritage person elected to the General Assembly of Rhode Island

1885


Led by Rev. Mahlon Van Horne and George T. Downing, Rhode Island General Assembly enacts a law that secures all persons within the State their civil rights declaring no person within the jurisdiction of this state shall be debarred from the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any licensed inns, public conveyances, on land or water, or from any licensed places of public amusement, on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

1888


The Rhode Island Democratic Party forms an Equal Rights Ticket. John W. Davis is elected Governor and his progressive administration was known for giving foreign-born residents the same voting rights as native-born citizens and expanding suffrage to women.

1891

The first African American owned and operated newspaper in New England, the Torchlight is established by John C. Minkins in Providence

1894


John Hope graduates from Brown University and later becomes President of Morehouse College

1896

Rhode Island enacts General Law, Chapter 277 that all persons within the jurisdiction of this state shall be entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement.

1896


The National Association of Colored Women s Clubs is organized in Washington, DC. Newport businesswoman, Mary Dickerson organizes a Rhode Island Chapter and the Women s League Newport. A major political campaign for the Clubs is advocating for Anti-Lynching Laws.

1896

The United States Supreme Court issues Plessy v. Ferguson ruling deciding that separate but equal facilities satisfy Fourteenth Amendment guarantees, thus giving legal sanction to Jim Crow segregation laws

1898


The Sumner Political Club is organized by George T. Downing, Thomas G. Williams and others in Newport to support political awareness and voting rights of men of color in Newport.

1898


Providence born, William A. Heathman becomes the first African American to be sworn in as an attorney in Rhode Island. He would later become a founder of the Providence NAACP.