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About Rhode Island Black Heritage Society

“The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society is constituted for the purpose of: Procuring, collecting, and preserving books, pamphlets, letters, manuscripts, prints, photographs, paintings, and any other historical material relating to the history of the Blacks of Rhode Island; encouraging and promoting the study of such history by lectures and otherwise; and publishing and diffusing information as to such history.”

Our founding mission statement has been expanded: it is the preservation of African Diaspora historical artifacts – books, art, papers and images, as well as facilitating the interpretation of history to enlighten others about our heritage.

We have continued our commitment to focus on a more inclusive program of exhibits, research and events that will share history and open insights into the future that creative survival has made possible for African descendants – from former slaves to immigrants and to native born descendants.

Beyond educating the public, the society is responsible for advancing the culture and documenting the contributions of the African Heritage Community in Rhode Island.


Executive Director
Theresa (Soni) Guzmán Stokes

Research Director
Dr. Christopher West

Lead Archivist
Andre Robinson

Operations & Artistic Manager
Aileen Jimenez Rodriguez

Executive Confidential Assistant
Anais La Paz Marrero

Administration/Human Resource Assistant
Amy Greenberg

Incorporators & Advisors

Advisory Committee

Morris Akinfolarin
Tomas Avila
Hon. Melissa Dubose
Kimberly Dumpson, esq.
Simon Goudiaby
Leanord Lopes, esq.
Don Mays
Elvys Ruiz
Raymond Watson, esq.
Dr. Rowena Stewart


Consulting Historian
Keith W. Stokes

Corporate Membership & Marketing
Antonio Lopes
Tilt Communications

Our Honored Founders

Rowena Stewart – Founder


Oliver Burton, Jr.

Albert Klyberg

Clifton Moore

William Robinson

Joyce Stevos

George Turville

Michael Van Leesten

Frederick Williamson

Board of Directors
Robert Sanders – Chair

Tomas Avila

Mary Ann Crook

Allen Harris

Wilmar Jennings

Julius Kolawole

Alfred Martin

Don Mays

Allen Waters

Kasim Yarn