From Feb. 28 through March 6, RWU and RWU Law will host the traveling exhibit in the second-floor atrium of the School of Law building on the university’s Bristol campus. The exhibit will be on display Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The exhibit documents 250 years of service and survival, telling the story in images and text of American firsts: the first black philanthropic organization (the Free African Union Society, founded in Newport); the first black Episcopal delegation to a Diocesan Convention (from Christ Church in Providence); the first piece of sacred music by an African-American (by Newport Gardner); and more.
During the Feb. 28 event, Wilson – a resident artist at the Trinity Repertory Company who just starred in “The Mountaintop,” a play about the last night before the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination – will deliver an 1842 speech by the Rev. Alexander Crummell, a black Anglican priest in Providence credited with winning the right to vote for Rhode Island blacks during the Dorr Rebellion.
The exhibit will open at 4 p.m., and the program will begin at 6 p.m. with Wilson’s performance, followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session about the exhibit, “The Black Church in Rhode Island.” The panel will include Rickman, RWU History Professor Charlotte Carrington-Farmer and the Rev. Sammy C. Vaughan, senior pastor at St. James Baptist Church, in Woonsocket. It is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. For more information, call (401) 254-3166.
The exhibit is funded by The Rhode Council for the Humanities and The Rhode Island Council on the Arts, sponsored by Opera Providence, and mounted by Stages of Freedom, a nonprofit founded by Rickman and program coordinator Robb Dimmick.