Newport City Council Approves Memorial Resolution from Middle Passage Committee

After many months of planning, research, organizing and lobbying, the Newport Middle Passage committee presented a resolution to the Newport City Council requesting Liberty Square as the permanent location for a memorial honoring enslaved Africans carried to the new world through the middle passage.New York Times - June 16, 2017 - Memorial

The unanimous approval by city government paves the way for the first public monument in Newport to African-Americans in 320 years since the first recorded middle-passage ship landed on Newport shores, the SeaFlower, in 1696.

Victoria Johnson - Newport City Council - memorial

Victoria Johnson of the Newport Middle Passage committee noted, “Newport became very prosperous in the triangle trade”, but when growing up in Newport, “we were all told that we were equal, but we never had a history lesson in black heritage”, and this history was not discussed. The planned monument will be an important step in opening up public discussion on African heritage in Newport’s history and memorializing the 106,000 Africans carried into slavery aboard Rhode Island slave ships. It will occupy Liberty Square, a site listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


Newport Middle Passage Project Exhibits at URI Art Exhibit

Newport Middle Passage Committee exhibited manuscripts, photographs and primary source documents to a University of Rhode Island art exhibit on the history of black labor in Rhode Island. The exhibit opened at the URI Fine Arts Center in South Kingstown. Artist Deborah Baronas from Warren unveiled her “Invisible Bodies, Disposable Cloth” textile artwork, while Newport member Peter Fay researched and curated printed material and photos on 19th century textiles, whaling and service trades. Many Newport members participated in discussions and the reception.

View introductory remarks at the reception here:


Contributing Scholar Peter Fay commentary on exhibit

Marcus Nevius commentary on exhibit