Pioneers on the playing field: Bruno’s first Black athletes and coaches

Posted in Articles, Biography, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-11-15 20:41Z by Steven

Pioneers on the playing field: Bruno’s first Black athletes and coaches

The Brown Daily Herald
Providence, Rhode Island

Peter Swope, Senior Staff Writer

Media by Courtesy Photos | The Brown Daily Herald

Looking back at Jackie Court, other Black trailblazers in Brown Athletics program

While today’s Brown Athletics program displays diversity among its coaches and athletes, this has not always been the case. Throughout the history of Brown Athletics, trailblazing Black athletes and coaches have battled racism and adversity to earn athletic achievements while helping to build a more equitable program. This week The Herald will feature baseball player William White, class of 1883, football player Fritz Pollard, class of 1919 and gymnastics coach Jackie Court, who each contributed to the development of Brown Athletics on and off the field.

“William Edward White was the first African-American to play in the professional baseball ranks,” according to Brown Athletics archivist Peter Mackie ’59. “He played one game for the Providence Grays … (few people know) about him, but if you look at a picture of that 1879 team, there he is.”

White was born in Milner, Georgia; his mother was a formerly enslaved African-American woman and his father was a wealthy white man. White and his siblings attended Moses Brown School before being accepted to Brown through a connection via a local Baptist church. As a dually-enrolled student, White was a first baseman for the Brown baseball team while still a senior at Moses Brown…

Read the entire article here.

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Together for Four Decades, Married for Four Years

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States on 2018-12-30 21:10Z by Steven

Together for Four Decades, Married for Four Years

The New York Times

Alix Strauss

Paula Martiesian and Ken Carpenter in the yard of their home in Providence, R.I. The couple met in college at Rhode Island School of Design. She’s a painter, he’s a musician. Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Because marriage is an ever-evolving experience, we constantly shift, change and, in some cases, start over. In It’s No Secret, couples share thoughts about commitment and tell us what they have learned along the way.

Who Paula Martiesian, 64, and Ken Carpenter, 65.

Occupations She is a painter, he is a musician (mostly jazz) and composer.

Their Marriage 4 years, 2 months and counting.

Through the Years

The couple quietly married Oct. 20, 2014, in an unplanned ceremony in the living room of their house in Providence, R.I. A friend officiated. “Since 1975, we were considered married by common law in Rhode Island,” Mr. Carpenter said. “When same-sex law passed a few years ago, common law wouldn’t be accepted and we wouldn’t be considered married anymore. The government needed a certificate; we didn’t.” No photos were taken, and the wedding was a surprise to all.

They met in 1972 as students at the Rhode Island School of Design, from which both graduated. Ms. Martiesian was 18 at the time and Mr. Carpenter was 20. “He was really talented, hard working and so secure,” she said. “He was skinny and cute. We didn’t really date; we fell into each other. He was a musician and I drove him to a gig he was playing at. I consider that our first date.”

And that’s how it started. “A black man from Harlem and a white girl from Pawtucket; a painter and a musician,” Ms. Martiesian said. “Racism swirled around us everywhere we went.”…

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Public Radio Reporter Seeking Couples In New England For Story On Interracial/Mixed Marriage.

Posted in Autobiography, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2017-02-20 02:17Z by Steven

Public Radio Reporter Seeking Couples In New England For Story On Interracial/Mixed Marriage.

WGBH Radio
Boston, Massachusetts

Sally Jacobs

My name is Sally Jacobs and I am a reporter doing a project for WGBH radio in Boston on interracial marriage in connection with the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing the practice. I am looking for couples in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) who have a compelling story of challenge, triumph, passion, hardship or adventure.

I am also looking for some particular experiences:

  • Interracial couples who divorced in the mid 1980s.
  • Couples who married before interracial marriage became legal in 1967.
  • Young/millennial couples who met on an interracial dating website.
  • Those with a compelling story from any time period.

If you live in any of the six New England states, please e-mail me a description of your story, long or short, at

Many thanks.

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I Named My Mixed-Race Daughter for a Slave-Trading Town

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2016-07-23 17:55Z by Steven

I Named My Mixed-Race Daughter for a Slave-Trading Town

The New York Times

Susan Fales-Hill

An oil painting of Susan Fales-Hill’s great-great-great-grandfather hangs in her apartment in Manhattan. He turned out to be not as upstanding as she once thought. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

FOR nearly 20 years, my great-great-great-grandfather’s portrait has watched over me from my red dining room wall. With his high collar, ruffled cravat and black waistcoat, Samuel Fales, 1775-1848, is the very image of the upstanding 19th-century New England gentleman. An eminent merchant and alderman of Boston, he was the founder of the family’s shipping business. I’ve known his face and taken comfort in his smile since I was a child attending Sunday lunch at my grandmother’s in the 1960s.

Samuel Fales seemed utterly unperturbed by the changes the 20th century had wrought, among them his great-great-grandson’s unorthodox choice of bride: my mother, a black Haitian-American actress, and my brother and me, his mixed-race descendants. His portrait has stood as an emblem of our family’s pride in its history. “You have relatives on both sides of your family who fought in the American Revolution,” my mother would frequently remind me.

To honor my forebears, my husband and I named our only child Bristol, after the town in Rhode Island where some of the Faleses first settled in the 17th century. A year ago, I learned through new historical research that Bristol had in fact served as a main hub of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This gave me great pause. Had I done my daughter a dreadful disservice? Upon reflection, I decided that naming a multicultural African-American after a slave port was in fact redemptive, the ultimate act of reclamation.

It never occurred to me that my family might have participated in the port’s inhumane commerce…

Read the entire article here.

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Race In R.I.: The Invisible Natives

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-10-26 18:30Z by Steven

Race In R.I.: The Invisible Natives

The Providence Journal
Providence, Rhode Island

G. Wayne Miller, Journal Staff Writer

Their ancestors were the state’s original settlers, but today’s Indians say whites ‘don’t even see us’

First of two parts

EXETER – On this fine autumn morning, Paulla Dove Jennings welcomes a visitor into her home at the edge of woods with a handshake and a smile. She pours tea, sits at her kitchen table, and begins relating some of her life’s story, which in its essential elements mirrors that of her relatives and ancestors, Rhode Island’s Narragansett and Niantic peoples.

A tribal elder now at 75, Jennings has been a waitress, chef, clerk, author, historian, educator, museum curator, state Indian Affairs Commissioner, Narragansett leader and more. Gifted with words and possessing a keen memory, she is a celebrated storyteller — a woman who laughs easily, and who also feels anger and pain at how some whites have treated her people since the Great Swamp Massacre of 1675 nearly obliterated them. The Narragansett and Niantic are among the state’s original inhabitants, here for 30,000 or more years.

“Oppression” is one word Jennings sometimes uses to describe that centuries-long treatment.

“Racism” is another.

“Rhode Island has close to the same racism as in Mississippi, and I’ve lived in both places,” says Jennings, a direct descendant of the great 17th-century Niantic sachem Ninigret

Read the entire article here.

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Race in Rhode Island: Is race just an invention?

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 20:34Z by Steven

Race in Rhode Island: Is race just an invention?

The Providence Journal
Providence, Rhode Island

Paul Edward Parker

Classifications were created to divide people, say educator, historian.

When you ask “What is race?” don’t expect a simple answer.

And, when you consider Latinos — Are they a race or an ethnicity? — plus America’s ever growing multiracial identity, that complicated answer grows even more complex.

The apparently simple concept of race eludes easy definition, even though we have been counting people by race in Rhode Island as far back as 1774.

The federal government took up the practice in 1790, the year that Rhode Island became the 13th and final original state to ratify the Constitution.

Despite that long history of sorting people into racial categories, experts say it has little basis in science. It’s more about sociology and politics.

“Race is not a biological construct. It’s a social construct,” said Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, a retired Rhode Island College professor who, for nearly 40 years, taught classes on the anthropology of racism. “There’s a belief that it’s scientific,” she added. “It’s impossible to classify humans scientifically into race.”…

What about Latino?

Along with “What is race?” those who count Americans by categories have to ask: “Is Hispanic or Latino a race?”

The Census Bureau has said no, Hispanic origin is in addition to race. Someone who identifies as Hispanic or Latino also will belong to one or more of the five racial groups.

But two-thirds of American Latinos disagree, Lopez said. They have told Pew that Latino is part of their racial identity.

“I’m not white, and I’m not black,” said Anna Cano Morales, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University in Providence. “I choose to be Latina.”

But Morales concedes racial and ethnic identity is not simple. “This is an incredibly complex set of questions,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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Gordon Fox Pleads Guilty in Rhode Island Corruption Case

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-03-07 02:38Z by Steven

Gordon Fox Pleads Guilty in Rhode Island Corruption Case

The New York Times

Richard Pérez-Peña

The climb took decades, but the fall was swift. Less than a year removed from his reign as speaker of the Rhode Island House, Gordon D. Fox pleaded guilty on Tuesday to taking bribes, wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

Mr. Fox, 53, took $52,500 in bribes to help a bar and restaurant get a liquor license and illegally diverted $108,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses. He made the admissions in Federal District Court in Providence as part of a plea agreement that calls for a three-year prison sentence — though a judge will ultimately decide the penalty — and will almost certainly cost him his law license.

Outside the courthouse, when asked by reporters whether he felt remorse, Mr. Fox said, “Absolutely, absolutely, without question.”…

…Mr. Fox, a Democrat, was the first openly gay person and the first mixed-race person to lead either of the state’s legislative chambers, and he led the drive to legalize same-sex marriage in 2013.

He grew up as one of six children in a blue-collar family, with a black mother and a white father, and he liked to recall how he had worked in an ice cream shop to help pay his way through law school. He became a lawyer and part owner of a nightclub, and in 1992 he was elected to the House. He became the majority leader in 2002 and the speaker in 2010…

Read the entire article here.

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Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge

Posted in Autobiography, Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2013-12-26 04:01Z by Steven

Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge

West Virginia University Press
December 2013
160 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-935978-24-4
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-935978-23-7
ePub ISBN: 978-1-935978-25-1
PDF ISBN: 978-1-938228-64-3

Original Text by Frances Harriet Whipple (1805-1878) with Elleanor Eldridge (1794-1862)

Edited by:

Joycelyn K. Moody, Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature and Professor of English
University of Texas, San Antonio

Elleanor Eldridge, born of African and US indigenous descent in 1794, operated a lucrative domestic services business in nineteenth century Providence, Rhode Island. In defiance of her gender and racial background, she purchased land and built rental property from the wealth she gained as a business owner. In the 1830s, Eldridge was defrauded of her property by a white lender. In a series of common court cases as defendant and plaintiff, she managed to recover it through the Rhode Island judicial system. In order to raise funds to carry out this litigation, her memoir, which includes statements from employers endorsing her respectable character, was published in 1838. Frances Harriet Whipple, an aspiring white writer in Rhode Island, narrated and co-authored Eldridge’s story, expressing a proto-feminist outrage at the male “extortioners” who caused Eldridge’s loss and distress.

With the rarity of Eldridge’s material achievements aside, Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge forms an exceptional antebellum biography, chronicling Eldridge’s life from her birth. Because of Eldridge’s exceptional life as a freeborn woman of color entrepreneur, it constitutes a counter-narrative to slave narratives of early 19th-century New England, changing the literary landscape of conventional American Renaissance studies and interpretations of American Transcendentalism.

With an introduction by Joycelyn K. Moody, this new edition contextualizes the extraordinary life of Elleanor Eldridge—from her acquisition of wealth and property to the publication of her biography and her legal struggles to regain stolen property. Because of her mixed-race identity, relative wealth, local and regional renown, and her efficacy in establishing a collective of white women patrons, this biography challenges typical African and indigenous women’s literary production of the early national period and resituates Elleanor Eldridge as an important cultural and historical figure of the nineteenth century.

Read the original text from 1838 here.

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Our Zip Code May Be More Important Than Our Genetic Code: Social Determinants of Health, Law and Policy

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-08-05 05:05Z by Steven

Our Zip Code May Be More Important Than Our Genetic Code: Social Determinants of Health, Law and Policy

Social Determinants of Health
Rhode Island Medical Journal
Volume 96, Number 7 (July 2013)

Dannie Ritchie, MD, MPH, Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
Lead, Transcultural Community Health Initiative
Brown University Center for Primary Care and Prevention

Public health is defined as “what we, as a society, do collectively to assure the condition for people to be healthy.” (Institute of Medicine (IOM), 1988, 2003). This evokes the social determinants of health – where we live, learn, work and play has a greater impact on individual and population health than does access to health care. However, when we discuss health and health disparities, clinical care problems are often framed as the problems with the health-care system. Recently, the Institute of Medicine has moved to make the distinction that in public health, the clinical care system is but one part of the overall health system, which should help to avoid the conflation of health as only a product of medical care (IOM 2010)…

This special issue contains a series of papers expanding key themes addressed in the seminars. Making real improvements in the health of our communities, especially the economically, socially and environmentally impoverished communities, requires much more than “fixing” our wasteful, fragmented and misdirected medical-care systems. If we are to achieve health equity, it is time for us to evaluate how to truly shift the dialogue, and not inadvertently replicate the same disparities we are trying to eliminate. We must examine how disparities impact us all across demographics and not only the most vulnerable, though they bear the greater burden. It is our intent with this edition to provide tools to better equip us to evaluate the social determinants of health and ways to take action through law and policy…

Read the entire article here.

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Miscegenation and Acculturation in the Narragansett Country of Rhode Island, 1710-1790

Posted in Articles, Economics, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2012-05-24 00:33Z by Steven

Miscegenation and Acculturation in the Narragansett Country of Rhode Island, 1710-1790

Trotter Review
Volume 3, Issue 1 (1989)
Article 4

Rhett S. Jones, Professor of History and Africana Studies
Brown University

The histories of most New England states view blacks as a strange, foreign people enslaved in southern states, whom New Englanders rescued first by forming colonization and abolitionist societies and later by fighting a Civil War to free them. The existence of a black population in New England as early as the seventeenth century has been pretty much ignored. Indeed Anderson and Marten, of the Parting Ways Museum of Afro-American Ethnohistory, touched off a furor with their discovery that Abraham Pearse, one of the early residents of Plymouth Colony, was black.

The long neglect of New England’s black history has recently come to an end. Historical societies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have been formed to facilitate the study of black life in the colonial era as well as in later periods. A number of these organizations—notably the African Meeting House Museum, the Parting Ways Museum of Afro-American Ethnohistory, and the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society—have won national awards and acclaim. The scholarly literature now reflects this new interest in New England blacks. Carvalho’s Black Families in Hampden Country, 1650-1855, while not strictly speaking a history, provides much useful insight into black life. Randolph Domonic presented a paper reflecting his work on the Abyssinian Church of Portland, Maine, and Randolph Stakeman has two articles forthcoming on black life in New England’s largest state. Cottrol explores the history of blacks in Providence before the Civil War, while Horton examines Boston during the same period. Coughtry and Jones have each published articles on Rhode Island blacks. The present work is part of growing scholarly interest in New England’s colonial black past…

…Race, Economics, and Miscegenation…

…By the end of the Revolutionary War, the economic system that made possible the unique planter lifestyle lay in ruins.

It was against this backdrop that the three races met and mingled along the western shore of Narragansett Bay. Long before the end of the eighteenth century, miscegenation had become a problem for New England settlers, who, if they had no clear idea of the nature of Africans, had even less understanding of the nature of the growing number of mulattos. Unlike blacks, who might be of African, Caribbean, or American birth, mulattos were usually born in the New World and were, therefore, not only racially distinct from Africans and Europeans but culturally distinct as well. The New England colonies recognized them as a separate group. Massachusetts made the first distinction between blacks and mulattos in 1693, Connecticut did so in 1704, and Rhode Island and New Hampshire followed in 1714. In addition to sexual relations between blacks and whites, Native Americans and blacks also came together and produced children. Greene believes the lowly status assigned both groups in white dominated New England served to erase any distinction between them, and, as they were common victims of oppression, they naturally drew together. In any event, along the eastern seaboard there was a mixing of Native Americans, whites, and blacks during the colonial era.

Unlike the Spaniards and the Portuguese, the Englishmen who settled New England were not accustomed to race mixture and so had not developed the elaborate racial hierarchy that characterized much of the rest of the New World. Hence they were none too precise in the racial terminology they developed. While they freely borrowed the term “mulatto” from the Spaniards to refer to a person of mixed African and European ancestry, they used neither the Spanish term “mestizo” to refer to a person of mixed Native American and European ancestry, nor the term “zambo” to refer to a person of mixed Native American and African ancestry. In New England, and in some other British colonies along the Atlantic coast, the term “mestee” or “mustee” was sometimes applied to an individual whose ancestry was both Amerindian and black. The same term, however, was also sometimes applied to persons whom the Spaniards called “mestizos.” The English never fully agreed on what to call persons of mixed Indian and European background. Race mixture was common in all the New England colonies, but only Massachusetts ever legally prohibited it, passing a law in 1706 that made illegal not only marriage between blacks and whites, but sex relations between them as well.

Miscegenation was common in the Narragansett Country, scholars agreeing that the Narragansett Indians had considerable sexual contact with both whites and blacks. The Indians were as unprepared for the cultural consequences of miscegenation as were blacks and whites, so that for a number of years it was not clear whether persons of mixed ancestry were members of the tribe, Woodward concludes that in the latter part of the eighteenth century “social lines between Indians and blacks became less distinct as inter-marriages multiplied.” And Boissevain claims that one of the consequences of the Narragansett’s contact with both whites and blacks was that they lost their language by 1800. The planter elite, having constructed a multi-racial labor force in the Narragansett Country, gradually became uneasy about both blacks and the Narragansett Indians. In 1726 a South Kingstown law forbade both racial groups to hold social gatherings and assemblages out of doors.

Regardless of the law, Native Americans and blacks continued to meet in both public places and in private. James and Simonds agree that the resultant population was one of ill-defined racial status, but these men and women found a niche for themselves in the workplace of the Narragansett Country.  Thomas Waimsely (the name is variously spelled in the eighteenth century records), described as a “a mustee or at least an octoroon,” married an Indian woman and not only had a small holding of his own and a slave but did odd jobs for the planter aristocracy. Despite his mixed heritage, Waimsely apparently felt no especial sympathy for blacks and was willing to track down and return a fugitive slave. While some blacks and members of the Narragansett tribe intermarried and freely associated with one another, there was no emergent sense that Indians and blacks ought to band together against whites. The two associated with one another in the workplace and elsewhere but did not create an ideology that might have enabled them to present a unified front against their white oppressors. In this they were no different from blacks and Amerindians in other parts of the colonial Americas.

The Reverend Joseph Fish, a standing order minister from Connecticut who travelled to the Narragansett Country to preach to the Indians in the 1760s and early 1770s, reflected in his diary on the confusion of these Amerindians as the result of miscegenation. Fish employed and worked with Joseph Deake to establish a school for the Narragansett. Deake, who was for a time schoolmaster, wrote Fish in December, 1765, to say there might be as many as 151 Indian children who were eligible for the school, He continued, “Besides these there is a considerable Number of mixtures such as mulattos and mustees which the tribe Disowns.” Fish himself urged the Narragansett to make room for “Molattos” who lived with them and “to behave peaceably and friendly towards them, allowing their Children benefit of the School, if there was Room and the Master Leisure from tending Schollars of their own Tribe,” The Indians were divided over persons of mixed ancestry who were the children of the Narragansett and who lived with their parents and were loved by them yet were persons whom some tribal members sought to “disown.” Fish noted that although he rode from Connecticut to teach the Indians, blacks, whites, and mixed bloods all attened his sermons. Fish also candidly recorded observations of cross racial sexual liaisons, such as the case of a “Molatto” named George, who in 1774 was living with an Indian woman who had at one time been married to the “king” of the Narragansett.

While the planters of South County passed a law aimed at preventing blacks and Indians from conducting public meetings, apparently a law was never passed prohibiting their living together or marrying one another, nor did they prohibit whites and blacks from doing so. The Charlestown Council Record Book duly recorded, for example, that lahue, described as the son of “Negro Will” of Charlestown, and Phelby, “a malatto woman of Westerly,” had been married on November 5, 1753. Thomas Walmsley, a “mustee,” was married to Elizabeth, an Indian.

Despite the frequency with which red, white, and black intermarried or formed sexual liaisons with one another in the Narragansett Country, and despite their failure to agree upon a neatly ordered racial terminology, eighteenth century Rhode Islanders seem never to have become confused about the three original races. While there was much con fusion about the intermediate peoples who were the result of miscegenation, residents of South County retained a clear sense of the racial identity and moral character of whites, Amerindians, and blacks…

Read the entire article here.

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