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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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