Race, Memory, and Memorialization

Members of the Center for Reconciliation join Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice in its two-day conference on Race, Memory, and Memorialization.

Here, a panel shares stories of how universities began exploring the history of slavery and race.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations Focus on Reconciliation

The Center for Reconciliation (CFR) is hosting three events that explore various expressions of “reconciliation” based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s teachings about The Beloved Community.

Each event encourage attendees to explore the meaning and practice of reconciliation. In a world that is increasingly conflictual, this is an opportunity for people to share expressions of reconciliation in word, music and art.

The series of events began with four faith leaders reflecting on “Reconciliation as Expressed in Four Faith Traditions” on January 11. The second event in this series is “Reconciliation as Expressed in Music.” This event will feature choral instrumental performances featuring members of the Ruach Singers, students from the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra Music School, the Providence Gay Men’s Chorus and other performers. It will be held on Thursday, February 8th at St. John’s Cathedral, 271 North Main Street, Providence.

David J. Beauchesne, Executive Director of the Philharmonic, will speak about and invite participants to discuss how music relates to reconciliation.

This will be the first time the Cathedral will be open for a public event since its closure in 2012. The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island is pleased to see the Cathedral being used by the community. “Rhode Island for Community and Justice just moved their offices into the office wing of the Cathedral, joining the Center for Reconciliation there,” he said. “Together they and our new Young Adult Missioner will bring youth and new life into this space. We are eager to open this building to the community and have it be a place where the sacred and secular meet.”

The third event in the Celebration Series explores “Reconciliation as Expressed in the Arts. The exhibit, done in partnership with Steven Pennell, Director of the URI Providence Campus Arts and Culture Program in partnership with the URI Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies, will include the works of local and national artists and a discussion of the exhibit. The event is scheduled for Thursday March the 8th at 7:00 PM at St. John’s Cathedral, 271 North Main Street, Providence.

A service of Choral Evensong will be on Sunday, February 25th at 4:00 PM at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Newport. The Evensong service will commemorate Black History Month and two historical black figures, Absalom Jones and Peter Quire, the founder of the church. The public is invited and encouraged attend to both services.

The Center for Reconciliation (CFR) is a nonprofit organization that fosters interracial reconciliation through a wide range of events and programs designed to connect us to our past so we can together build a more just and equitable future. The goal of each event or program is to engender dialogue — as part of the event, on the way home afterwards and with family, friends, co-workers in the days after the event. Their programs and events are designed to inform and inspire participants to become ambassadors of reconciliation.

The work of the Center for Reconciliation, based in the Cathedral of St. John in Providence, grows out of the commitment of the Episcopal Church to address its role in slavery and the slave trade and the ways the Church both participated in and benefitted from slavery. It is essential that we acknowledge this history and understand its impact in the ongoing process of reconciliation. And given the pivotal role that Rhode Island played in the slave trade, ours is a unique opportunity to provide leadership in this process – not to dwell on the past but to build on our history as a pathway to the future.

Cathedrals traditionally have been places located at the intersection of the secular and sacred – physically situated at the crossroads of in cities and towns where the community gathers for debate and discourse. They have provided “sanctuary” – a safe refuge in difficult times and are known to be centers of excellence in liturgy and the arts.

In 2018 the CFR will launch a series of programs held on Thursday evenings including Movie Nights, The Art of Race, exhibits, speakers and more. Walking Tours of the College Hill area and historic homes are popular in the summer months. See their website www.cfrri.org for event information. CFR will also seek to strengthen partnerships with organizations that share our commitment reconciliation. The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra Music School, The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice of Brown University, Rhode Island for Community and Justice, URI’s Arts and Culture Program and the Rhode Island School of Design.

To contact the Center for Reconciliation, click here.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast

Bishop Knisely and the Center for Reconciliation heard Rev. Dr. Sammy Vaughan speak at the Minister’s Alliance Breakfast celebrating Martin Luther King Day. For 35 years the Alliance has raised money to support scholarships for black youth.

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Center for Reconciliation Receives Award

The Center for Reconciliation (CFR) is honored to have been named the 2017 winner of the Sister Ann Keefe Community and Faith Service Award.

Presented by The Reverend Donald Anderson, executive director of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the award is given to an individual or organization that has worked with the faith community to achieved shared goals. The award was accepted by Elon Cook, the program director and museum curator for the CFR. Click here to watch the presentation — and share it with others!

We appreciate the recognition and your support!

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Rhode Island Docent Symposium

The Center for Reconciliation participated last week in the 2017 Rhode Island Docent Symposium, sponsored by the Rhode Island Historical Society and funded by the Rhode Island Foundation and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

The symposium was held on Monday, May 8 in New Bedford, Massachusetts at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. This year’s theme was “Creating Welcoming Spaces.”

Elon Cook, our program director and curator, gave a 15-minute video presentation as part of the session on “Race in Museums.” Elon spoke about how to develop respectful interpretations of enslaved, and gradually emancipated, people by collaborating with universities and other historic sites. She emphasized the importance of telling the truth about our shared history. Keith Stokes from the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society then spoke about the importance of representing enslaved people from the point of view of the people themselves (their family, food, culture, religion, skills, etc.) rather than simply as “slaves.” Pam McDonald, CFR volunteer program coordinator, Morgan Grefe, executive director of the Rhode Island Historical Society, and Keith Stokes then answered questions posed by the 40 docents present at the program.

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