Preserving the Stories of Our Creative Survival

Creative Survival Newsletter - July 2020

12 Jul 2020 4:55 PM | Theresa Guzman Stokes (Administrator)

Creative Survival

a Publication of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society

RIBHS in the News

Now is the Time to Advance African American History Newport Daily News

RIBHS Receives Grant to Develop Documentary Script - view video at here

Upcoming Events

Providence Preservation Society: Race, Power, and Preservation

July 15 / 5:30 pm
Free / Advance registration required

A Season of Change

2020 will go down in history as the year that we stood up and said “ENOUGH!” Protests after the death of George Floyd are some of the largest and longest running in our history, and the Black Lives Matter movement has taken center-stage in a number of states, including Rhode Island. In the midst of this we have statues being overturned or demolished, and people demanding that public buildings and schools named after known slave-traders be renamed.

RIBHS has been working hard to move forward the establishment of an African heritage history curriculum in Rhode Island schools K-12. We believe that reconciliation cannot happen without recognition – not only recognizing slavery and emancipation, but the real accomplishments and contributions of African heritage people; contributions that date back to the founding of this country.

We hope you will join us in supporting these efforts as we move forward toward a more inclusive society.


What Does the Fourth of July Mean to the African American?

A Historical Perspective

(click title for full story)

Frederick Douglass, perhaps one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders, presented a speech in Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852 entitled, "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro." The first part of his speech praises what the founding fathers did for this country, but the speech soon expands into a denunciation of the attitude of American society toward African heritage enslavement and equality.

Return to Africa with the HACSA Summit!

The history of the African-American is a silenced past. While many African Americans, be they historians, scholars, or individuals have documented this history there is still so much deep richness and truth in our history and culture that has been whitewashed, watered down, written out of the textbooks, unspoken or unshared. This has left the African-American community feeling disconnected to their own history with little understanding of the truth of their heritage. Despite this palpable feeling of distance from our own history, we know that the story begins on the shores of Africa. Recently, across America there has been a renewed interest in the opportunity for African-Americans to reclaim their African heritage and culture. In their 1967 book Black Power, Kwame Ture (formerly known as Stokley Carmichael) and Charles V. Hamilton assert that, “It is absolutely essential that black people know this history, that they know their roots, that they develop an awareness of their cultural heritage.[…] If black people are to know themselves as a vibrant, valiant people, they must know their roots,” (Ture 38-39).

This sentiment carries a weighty significance, which is not dissimilar to the weight of the legacy of African-Americans in the United States. This renewed interest in many African-Americans to reclaim their history comes from a desire to know their roots. Yet how can African-Americans reconnect to their roots?

One organization, which provides both access to the richness of both the heritage and culture of Africa as well as access to connections throughout the diaspora is an organization called The Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa (HACSA). HACSA is a non-profit, NGO and civil society organization, with a mission to highlight the importance of heritage and culture for sustainable socioeconomic development in Africa and the diaspora. HACSA promotes and celebrates African heritage and culture and the dynamism and blending of cultures. HACSA “[strives] to project the richness and beauty which can be found in the land, the people, and the culture and create for a (opportunities) in which serious debate can take place on how to harness its abundant resources for the improvement of the quality of life of its people both in Africa and in the Diaspora.” ( One of the most powerful parts of HACSA’s mission is their focus on unifying the diaspora. HACSA understands that through these connections across continents and cultures, Africans, African-Americans, Afro-Caribbeans and Afro-Europeans can pool their significant talents and resources to build a better future and improve the lives of their people. 

In August 2020 it will launch HACSA USA and offer membership registration on its website to those individuals and institutions in the U.S. that seek to make these connections and join the HACSA family network.

HACSA organizes an international summit in Africa which acts as a meeting place for the African diaspora. The most recent summit held in Ghana in 2019 coincided with Ghana’s national “Year of Return” which marked the 400 year anniversary of the beginning of the slave trade in the United States of America. The summit brought together heads of state, opinion leaders, practitioners, academics and participants from Africa and the diaspora to have open and meaningful debate on the 400 year legacy of the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved African people, to link, reunite and reconcile affected communities and share examples of innovation and creative strategies to overcome its debilitating and persisting effects. The HACSA Summit included keynote speakers, panel discussions, academic presentations, exhibitions, film screenings, a remembrance and candlelight vigil, a gala dinner dance showcasing African food, fashion and music and guided tours of key heritage sites in Ghana.

HACSA’s mission to reunite African-Americans with their heritage as well as tell an uplifting, nuanced and more complete narrative of Africa is critically important because unity enables more effective and holistic, growth, healing and understanding, and the addressing of centuries old separation, systemic oppression and inequality. It also creates a strong sense of connection between America and the continent of Africa which enriches the experiences of the diaspora and brings about the confidence and empowerment that a strong sense of identity confers. HACSA has created an important movement that many have already been moved to join. For more information visit and follow @thehacsa on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.


"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."

©2019 Rhode Island Black Heritage Society

Rhode Island Black Heritage Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. PO BOX 4238. Middletown, RI 02842

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